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SIGHT 

AND 

SOUND 






RIVER 

TO 

DAGENHAM 


WE ARE 
THE LAMBETH 
BOYS 


WEEKEND 

IN 

PARIS 



This short colour film follows two young people 
and their car through a kaleidoscope of dazzWng 
day and night impressions. With them, we visit 
not only the picture postcard spots but also cap¬ 
ture something of the reaE day-to-day life of this 
most photogenic city. 


Between Charing Cross Dagenham stretches 
the iungleof London's waterfront; a continuousEy 
shifting panorama of cranes & docks, wharves 
and back streets, with a population reminiscent 
of some of the characters from Dickens. This 17- 
minute colour film, cast in the form of a trip by 
river launch, carries us behind the facade of 
London's river, from the heart of the city out 
to the broader reaches of the Thames estuary. 


Karel Reisz's sensitive study of the youth club 
world has already joined the great classics of 
British documentary. Few films have won such 
unstinted praise from critics as well as applause 
from public audiences—not to mention coilecting 
more than a handful of international awards on 
the way. We at Ford are proud to have inspired 
this superb film which takes us—forfust under arr 
hour—beneath the skin of modern city life. 



These are among the latest additions to the Ford 
Film Library, joining such favourites as Power 
Trafrif Safari to SuccesSt Ttie One Year Week, 
and the Cy Laurie Baridwagon film. These 
sound films, and many more, are available on 
lb mm. Send for a catalogue containing full 
information. 

BORROW THEM FREE FROM 
0000 LIBRARY 

Dept. ftA A Cheapspde Hse., 135-147 Cheapside, London EC2 







For a breath of sea air 



TANKER VOYAGE 


The outward journey of a tanker to the Persian Gulf, with emphasis on a 
young cadet on his first voyage* Ship's routine; living conditions; and an 
unusual sequence showing the vessel's progress through the Suez Canal. 

16 MM, COLOUR. 24 MINUTES 

OUR NATIVE SHORE 

To thousands of us a holiday ground, and to thousands more their place of 
livelihood, the coast of Britain is revealed by the exploring cameras* 

16 AND 36 MM. COLOUR* 39 MINUTES 

HOOK, LINE AND SINKER 

Takes you on the maiden voyage of a great-line fishing vessel out of 
Aberdeen, away into the Arctic Circle and the Sea of the Midnight Sun. 
Great-line fishing, though by no means a new operation, is new to the 
screen; and the catch b giant halibut. 

IS AND 35 MM. COLOUR. 30 MINUTES. 


All Esso films available on free loan 

For deiaik of other Esso films — 
scieiitific, educational^ general 

interest—mrite for catalogue to:- £SSO PETROLEUM COM PAN Vp LIMITED 

3Q, QUEEN ANNE'S OATE 


"ill ion 


LONDON SWl 


i 





LONDON SCHOOL OF FILM TECHNIQUE 


★ ★ ★ 

BASIC COURSE 

A general grounding in the technique and art of hlm-making is related with the production 
of two ten-minute films, one shot largely outdoors using 16 mm. cameras and one shot in the 
studio using 35 mm. cameras. Specialisation at this stage is discouraged and students can only 
obtain a certificate if their work in all departments and in the final examination reaches the 
required standard. Lectures and demonstrations are given by Producers, Directors, Cameramen, 
Editors and other technicians working in the Film Industry. 

Minimum educational standard required:— 

Five passes at ** O ” level in G.C.E. or equivalent examination. All prospective students must 
complete an application form and those resident in the United Kingdom will also be required to 
attend for an interview. 

Basic:— 

Next courses commence September 11th, 1961, and November 13th, 1961. 

EXTENSION COURSE 

This is usually limited to students who have successfully passed the Basic Course certificate. 
Selected groups make their own films, each student specialising in one aspect of film-making. 
Work in progress and finished productions are encouraged, judged and criticised by working 
film technicians. 

★ ★ ★ 

Details from the School Secretary 
33/35 ELECTRIC AVENUE, S.W.9 — BRIxton 3344 


U 




THE EiVlNG SOIL 


A LIGHT IN NATURE 


HIGH SPEED FUGHT 


Our films add brightness to darkness 


Whenever science makes another hole in the darkness 
of ignorance, the camera is there to observe and record 
the facts* And one of Shell’s new films, *A Light in 
Nature’ not only covers 300 years of scientific study, 
but takes an intriguing glimpse into a possible future* 
Two other new Shell films we think you will want to 
know about arc: *Thc Living SoiF a coloured portrayal 
of the way scientists fight to control insects and diseases 
in the soil; and *High Speed Flight’ explaining how 


designers overcome the stress of changing air-pressures 
around aircraft at high speed. Our Film Catalogue lists 
and describes over 200 of these films. These are all 
loaned free in 16 mm or 35 mm gauge* 

One thing you can rely upon is that whenever we 
tackle a subject on film, we do it as entertainingly as 
possible—just because something is instructive it 
doesn’t have to be dull! So the brightness our filnns 
add to darkness is always as bright as we can make it. 


Write for tlie catalogue SH£:LL FILMS 



SHELL INTERNATIONAL PETROLEUM COMPANY LIMITED, No. 1, KINGS WAY* LONI>ON, WCa 
















Academy Award Winner... Giuseppina 


WINNER OF this year’s Oscar as the Best Short Subject 
of the year—Giuseppina, This BP film is a colourful j 
musical, good-humoured glimpse of everyday 
happenings in a North Italian village, complete 
’with cats, canaries, ducks, donkeys, and of course 
children. 

Giuseppina meets the driver of the road tanker, 
the priest who lost his hat, the Englishman who 
broke down, the American motorist with the mystery 
filler cap. She gets kissed by a surprised bride, and 
dances to the guitar with a sporting South Americano, 
Quite a day for Giuseppina - and a very pleasant 
half-hour’s film for anyone who likes, or has never 
visited, Italy. 


“Giuseppina”, a 32 minute, 16 mm. Technicolor 
film with English subtitles, is just one of many BP 
Films about the people involved in the oil industry. 
All BP Films are available on loan without charge, 
and a full catalogue is obtainable free from: 

INFORMATION DEPARTMENT* 

The British Petroleum Co. Ltd., Britiinnlc House^ 
Finsbury Circus* £.G,2. 



A BP FILM 


IV 



SIGHT AND SOUND 


THE INTERNATIONAL FILM QUARTERLY 



CONTENTS 

SUMMER 

1961 

VOLUME 30 NO. 3 


FEATURES 

107 The Cost of Independence: 

An Enquiry 

121 In the Picture 

128 Death of a Set 

130 Cannes, 1961 : derek prouse, 

JOHN GILLETT 

154 Correspondence 
156 Current Film Guide 

ARTICLES 

114 The Innocents: penelope Houston 
116 New Wave and French Cinema: 

JACQUES StCLIER 

123 Painting the Leaves Black. An 

Interview with Rouben Mamoulian: 

DAVID ROBINSON 

132 Satyajit Ray: a study: eric Rhode 
137 West Coast Report: colin young 
142 The Misfits: arlene croce 
151 Humanist Sputniks: Robert vas 


FILM REVIEWS 

144 One Eyed Jacks: penelope Houston 

145 The Connection: penelope gilliatt 

146 Three Directors and a Theme: 

peter JOHN dyer 

147 Exodus and The Guns of Navarone: 

JOHN GILLETT 

148 Two Daughters: eric Rhode 

148 The Love Trap: phillip riley 

149 Living Jazz: john gillett 

149 Plein Soleil: peter john dyer 

150 Three from Disney; 

MARGARET HINXMAN 

150 Romanoff and Juliet; 

JOHN RUSSELL TAYLOR 

BOOK REVIEWS 

153 Qu’est-ce que le Cin6ma?; 

JEAN QUEVAL 

153 The Three Faces of the Film: 

JOHN RUSSELL TAYLOR 


ON THE cover: Simone Signorct and 
Alexandra Stewart in Francois Leterrier’s 
Les Mauvais Coups. 



SIGHT AND SOUND is an critical magazine sponsored and published by the British Film Institute. It is not 

an organ for ihc expression of official British Film Institute policy; signed arlicJes represent the views of their authors^ and 
not itecessarily those of the Editorial Board. 

Copyright in all articles originally published m SiOHT and Sound is reserved. EDrroftiAL^ Publishing and Advertising 
Offices: British Film Institute^ §1 Dean Street, London, W,1 (Regent 00^1). Editor: Penelope Houston. AssociAtt: 

Peter John Dyer. Designer: John Harmer, L.SJ.A, jEDlTORiAL ^ard: Penelope Houston, Stanley Reed. James Quinn, 

Ernest Lindgren. Business Manager: Desmond ThirlwelL. Entered as 2nd class matter at the Post Office, New York, 

N.Y. Printed in England. Published and distributed in the U.S.A. by Sight and ^und. All American subscriptions 
and advertising inquiries should, be directed to John Wolff, 306 West llth Street, New York 14, N.Y. 105 






















When Shirley Clarke made her screen version of The 
Connection in New York a few months ago^ she Hnanced 
the production by methods familiar in the theatre but 
almost untested in the cinema. A couple of hundred 
small investors took shares in the enterprise; they 
were given no guarantee that they would ever see their 
money again^ and there was no advance commitment 
to a distributor. John Cassavetes’ Shadows was only 
completed after money had been raised through a 
broadcast appeal. Lionel Rogosin went into the busi¬ 
ness of running a cinema to ensure that On the Bowery 
and Come Bock, Africa got a showing in New York. In 
France, some young directors have been able to finance 
their films out of legacies, money lent or given by 
parents or friends. 

Nothing like this has yet happened in England—nor 
does it seem very likely to happen. The hazards 
dogging the steps of young film-makers are too well 
known to need elaboration: costs of production, 
difficulty of getting a distribution guarantee, and so 
on. But these are largely the problems of an industry 
geared to the production of commercial pictures; and 


107 


Opposite: fraofois Truffijui and JeoFTne Moreau an ihe set of '‘Jules ef jim** a Twentifes^ story of a jiff and two men. 




people who are prepared to approach the cmema 
in a different way—who have, that is, a passionate 
and desperate concern^—have found overseas that 
it is possible not to fight an industrial system from 
within, but as nearly as possible to disregard it* 

The percentage of successes among these in¬ 
dependent productions is not necessarily going to 
be higher than with films financed in a more 
orthodox way* Independence, enthusiasm, devotion, 
are no guarantee of quality* But this is not the 
point. The reason for supporting these ventures is 
that they make it possible, on however limited a 
scale, for a feature film to become as personal and 
unpredictable a vehicle of expression as the novel* 
In a commercial cinema where costs are rising 
every year, financial responsibility is bound to 
weigh heavily on creative impulse* The wonder is 
that anyone, knowing the financial investment at 
stake, dares to take any chances at all. 

Everyone seems to agree, in theory, that the 
cinema needs experiment, training grounds for 
young talent, the kind of boldness that comes only 
with freedom from commercial pressures* But our 
own cinema has produced no Shadows, no Breoth/ess, 
no Beau Serge. A film like Saturday Night ond Sunday 
Morning is cheaply made as far as the system allows; 
but it still cost £120,000 (three or four times the cost 
of these pictures), and it still had behind it the 
insurance of a best-selling novel* 

What would happen, we wondered, if someone in 
this country was in a position to take the plunge: 
to raise, privately, the necessary thirty or forty 
thousand pounds and to spend this money making 
a film as he wanted to make it* He would be called 
mad, of course; and he would need enthusiasm and 
daring to a fanatical degree* What if he went ahead 
without concerning himself with a distribution 
guarantee, hoping to recoup his money not neces¬ 
sarily through a circuit release here but through 
art house distribution in Britain, America and 
Europe? What would happen to him; what sort of 
hazards might he expect to encounter? Is it true 
that the unions are not at present prepared to 
recognise any distinction between a production 
with a big studio behind it and one so backed? 
What are some of the problems of finance and 
distribution? What kind of market might a film 
made in this way hope to achieve? 

We have asked people engaged in production, 
distribution and the provision of film finance to give 
us their comments on the cost of independence* 


Screen Eye/me FiYms teil iS-year-old Claire MarshaU for a leading 
part in their new production^ a story an adapted chiid to be 

directed by Charles Frend. 


ANTHONY PERRY and KENNETH CAVANDER 

Producer (The Secret Place, The /mpersonutor) and writer (The 
tmpersoT}Qtor), nrtennbers of Eyelme FilmSi an independent 
production company whose directors are Alfred ShaUjghnessy, 
Charles Frend, Guy Hanrilton, Kenneth More and Anthony 
Perry* 

WE ANSWER sight AND SOUND'S QUESTIONS AS MEMBERS OF A 

group of professional film-makers. What we want to do and 
what has happened to us is bound to reflect the kind of people 
we are. In that sense what follows is a personal diary, not a 
diagnosis. 

You ask: “What would happen to someone with £30,000 
or £40,000 to spend and a film he wanted to make?^’ The 
short reply is—nothing. Provided he is competent enough not 
to go broke and provided the picture could be edited together, 
there is nothing to stop him making a film. And nothing 
{except shortage of customers) to stop him selling it. But the 
question contains some formidable assumptions, which raise 
most of the important issues about the independent pro¬ 
duction of films in this country today. 

The first assumption is the word '‘someone'\ For an 
indivkhtal to make a film, in the sense that a novelist writes a 
novel, is impossible. A film is a communal effort of about 40 
people, spread over some weeks or months. Thai effort is 
exacting, and often highly skilled in ways which have nothing 
to do with the vision of the writer or director. Nevertheless, 
without these skills, the vision perishes. The least a film can 
expect, then, is that everyone concerned is working etficiently 
and knowledgeably to the same end. The individual who 
arrives with £30,000 in one hand and a script in the other 
may find himself alone in a t©:hnician's world, more often 
told what can’t be done than what might be achieved. 

If money were to be available to make the kind of film wc 
wanted to make, we had to be ready to make it without 
wasting time and effort on the things which normally inhibit 
the individual—the services of a production office and 
production manager, budgeting, scheduling, accountancy, 
facilities for testing artists. It was this reasoning that led us, 
early in I960, to form an independent production company; 
in order to know the practical problems of film-making outside 
the big studios, as well as inside, and to be able to undertake 
any kind of production on a professional level. We rented 
offices in Dean Street. We set ourselves to create a working 



108 










organism the make-up of which dictated, itself, as did the kind 
of work we would have to do in order to exist. We had to 
become makers of sponsored films, cither filmed advertising, 
documentaries, or features, so that we could spend what 
resources we had on developing the subjects and ideas we 
hoped to make entirely by ourselves. 

At this point we come to the second of your assumptions, 
which is rather like Mrs. Beeion’s jugged hare. The basic 
ingredient in the film-maker’s recipe is money. But first raise 
your money. 

Looking at the films that had begun to make a different 
approach to the cinema in this country possible, we saw that 
they were all tied to existing successes—either best-selling 
sensational novels and plays or known directors and actors, 
or both. Not one had bwn made from an original script. Not 
one had been made without stars. Not one had been made 
on a budget of less than, say, £75,000. Not one had been 
made outside an established studio. What hope was there 
for someone trying to make a film by unconventionai 
methods (because these save money), from a script written 
entirely for the screen, with actors cast simply and solely for 
their rightness in the part, with a director who had never 
made his name? Without the security of a best-seller, or a 
star, or a director—there was no hope. 

But there seemed to be a chink, a starting point. That was 
the second feature. At that time, early in I960, there was a 
shortage of what Wardour Street significantly calls ‘"^product”. 
Second features were made, cynically and crudely, merely as a 
way of filling up screen time on the circuits. We argued that 
distributors and, incidentally, the public, didn’t seem to mind 
if second features were made with no standards of any kind; 
therefore they would presumably have no objection if those 
films tried to include a slightly wider range of subject matter : 
to deah in fact, with events and people which were familiar 
From the newspapers, the theatre, and television and were 
barred only, it seemed, from the British cinema. 

It was an argument that was eventually proved wrong. The 
reasons why are complex, but in trying to make them clear we 
hope that some things of relevance to this enquiry may emerge. 

In this country the production money for a film is normally 
raised through a bank loan on a distributor’s guarantee. We 
went to distributors with proposals for a programme of films, 
based on the standards outlined above, and pointed out that 
the supporting feature might, apart from anything else, be of 
use to the industry as a training ground, with considerably 
reduced risk, for the generation who had not established 
themselves. What we hoped for was encouragement in the 
shaj:^ of a clear statement of distributors’ problems; a dis¬ 
cussion of budgets, potential revenue, censor certificates, the 
type of script which would fit into their plans; not pre- 
production money, not a legal commitment, but a positive 
attitude to what we were trying to do. What we found was a 
preoccupation with the problems of the large first feature 
market, and no policy towards low-budget production, 
certainly not as a creative contribution to the industry. 
A.B.C’s attitude was to regard such films as “studio fillers”, 
to be slipped in when floor space was available; Rank were 
promoting no production on this scale at all; British Lion had 
a stock pile of films and were not reading scripts, though they 
iater proved very open to a special proposition. Only Bryanston 

themselves producers—understood the independent pro¬ 
ducer’s isolation. In other words, the future did not exist. 
Some of the distributors felt that better things ought to be done 
with the same money. But here the alibi—a particularly timid 
one^was that you can’t raise the standards on a three week 
schedule and a £15,000 budget—as if ideas, writing quality, 
casting, good actors, rehearsal, thorough preparation had 
nothing to do with it. Under the vague generalisation of 
“more quality means more time” they mask a refusal to face 
the real difficulties of creating a new standard in this type of 
filming. 

The idea of consciously making films as part of a 



Commercid: a Dubonnet advertisement for TV, directed for Sye/ine by 
Michaet PoweU. The screen test is filmed on the some set, re-vomhed. 


programme, of booking features with each other to make up 
a satisfying evening, seemed to produce no response. The idea 
of making several films together, with all the consequent 
economies in studio and administrative costs, produced 
reactions, but no actions. On the scripts we sent them their 
comments were enthusiastic; but their immediate reflex was to 
suggest them as first features, on budgets of £75,000 or more. 
As for recovering their money on a non-circuit release 
through international art houses, they were not even informed 
about the figures. In most industries depending on public 
fancy the aim is to lead fashion. Only in the film industry are 
last year’s models assumed to be better than next year’s. 

This is the principal answer to sight and sound’s 
question—the raising of the money in terms other than the 
commercial market breaks down on the distributor/exhibitor 
axis. In giving a guarantee a distributor has to consider that 
he must sell his film to a circuit in order to recoup his money; 
and for practical financial purposes only tWo circuits exist, 
C.M.A. {Rank/National) and A.B.C Thus two men, the 
booking managers of these circuits, virtually control the 
showing of all films not made as a matter of major company 
policy—all films, that is, covered by this enquiry—and, of 
course, all second features. 

It was not surprising, then, that the first film we made was 
in some ways the least interesting of those we were proposing. 
But it had its uses. It proved that our machine was working. 
It allowed us to meet the N.F.F.C. accountants. It enabled us 
to establish a relationship with a distribution company 
which has allowed a second and more difficult film to ^ 
financed, it answered one of your qu^tions for you. Union 
requirements are not the greatest inhibition to cheap film- 
making. The development of the industry genuinely dictates a 
minimum crew which is not all that smaller than the “regula¬ 
tion” minimum. But it must be said that certain practices make 
it difficult for a small company to keep costs down. We found 
that in location shooting in London our electricians were able 
to use union agreements to claim as much again in “overtime” 
as they were already being paid on daily rate—although they 
shot not a minute longer than an SJ-hour studio day. It would 
be encouraging to be allowed to negotiate special rates of pay 
with the higher-paid technicians who wanted to help out a 


109 



production in which the motives were not to enrich the 
producers; to be able^ for instance, to use less than four men 
on the sound crew. But union practices are not the most 
unproductive item in the budget. 

The following figures are extracts from the budget of one 
film we made, of which the total cost was around £21,000. 
Finance interest, the fee charged for the completion guarantee 
and legal charges totalled between them over £2,700. The bank 
put in a 60 guinea charge over and above its own expenses— 
apparently just for shaking hands. That is, over 10% of the 
budget went on financing financiers. In a different department, 
the fact that we spent one week out of the three working in a 
studio cost us over £6,000—that is simply the charges for 
rental, labour, use of stores, power, transport, etc. So 
almost 30 per cent of the budget was directly and solely 
attributable to one wreck’s work in the studio: £6,000 which 
would not have been spent on shooting exactly the same 
material on location. 

Out of alt the above another answ'er to this enquiry becomes 
clear. The organisation of the industry forces costs to unreal¬ 
istic levels in all departments. Nevertheless, the distributor/ 
exhibitor axis can too easily be made out the unqualified 
villain of the piece. They are perhaps only villains by default, 
in that there is nothing more obvious—short of the society we 
live in—to blame. And yet the distributor may be seen as the 
victim, as much as the perpetuator, of that system. 

There are other, more brutal reasons why no Shadows^ no 
Beau Sergey has appeared in this country. One is the shortage 
of writers prepared to work in unorthodox ways and difficult 
conditions. Writing is in a seller’s market. Not only good, but 
even barely competent writers, especially script writers, can 
make a comfortable living. Their energy can bring them quick 
and sure rewards, and they quite naturally prefer to see their 
work performed and paid for to gambling on an independ- 
dent film production, an ^‘uncommerciar’ subject, and a script 
which may never be shown. If they do work for films, the good 
writers can earn much more by doing re-write work on some¬ 
one else’s script or by knocking out an original Edgar Wallace 
second feature. A professional writer has no wish to invest a 
great deal of heart-breaking toil, time and ingenuity in a 
difficult medium, wrestling with problems he need never face 
in television or the theatre. Writing an original screenplay is a 
very long and arduous business—and it is no use pretending 
to a professional writer that any original script not aimed fair 
and square at the immediate market has as much chance of 
being filmed as, say, an adaptation of a long-running play. 
For a small company, working through deferred payments by 
which the bulk of a writer^s money comes on the first day of 
shooting, the situation is desperate. We have had our scripts 
by devious means. One from a director who had established 
himself in documentaries; one from a writer who had bought 
himself time by selling another script to Hollywood; another 
from a writer who simply sacrificed himself; and so on ... . 
Only one came unannounced and totally written as a film 
script to our office—a first work by someone with no previous 
experience of films. This is another answer to the editor’s 
question. In general no professional writer is writing the kind 
of film SIGHT AND SOUND would like to see with the 
necessary intensity, or conviction about the cinema as a 
medium. 

One source of material we had hoped to find was among 
directors. We expected that directors who had hitherto been 
denied film expression by the rigid system would have scripts 
which they passionately wanted to make. Not books, not 
treatments which “might be good with a bit of re-writing”, not 
a play they vaguely remembered from some rep company, 
but a script that could be budgeted, scheduled and shot. But 
here directors were like coy and reluctant maidens waiting to 
be wooed. They seemed relatively unwilling to embroil them* 
selves in the problems of creating an original film script. And 
indeed, why should a man who can earn £ 100 for a day's work 
on a commercial, or work as he pleases in a TV company 


without the tribulations of film politics, give up weeks of his 
time to something that may never be made, and even if it is 
may cost him every worry and disaster imaginable ? We have 
no answer—except to say that everything worthwhile costs 
something. You can’t blame such people: if they have reached 
a position they want the plums; if they havenT they can’t 
afford to be distracted from the business of earning a living. 
But their attitude does supply another answer to the questions 
raised. 

We ourselves were wrong to pin our hopes on a type of 
production which relied solely on the chance of being accept* 
able to the industry as it stood. There are many good reasons 
why an independent production company should try to keep 
on working inside the system, It is part of being independent 
that you should reserve the right, as we do, to move in either 
world as you like. By the very fact that we undertake sponsored 
work, we are part of the system. But at the same time we are 
in a better position to work outside it if the opportunity should 
arise—better, at any rate, than anyone who has resolutely 
rejected it from the start. With the lessons we have learnt and 
our technical facilities, there is little excuse for us now if we do 
not try to do something on our own account. What market 
such a film might achieve must remain a theoretical question 
until such a film has been made, made well, and successfully 
distributed. Perhaps one way of marketing it might be to take 
it round from one independent exhibitor to another, though 
without the backing of a large publicity campaign such do-it- 
yourself distribution seems unlikely to succeed. The publicity 
is more likely to come from the critical press and the foreign 
film festivals. But this means that the film must stand up to 
international competition. No wonder the prospect daunts. 
The true answer to this whole enquiry lies in the people who 
go to make up the British film industry, their backgrounds, 
their training, the society they reflect. No one pei^onor sK:tion 
is responsible for the present state of affairs. But each individual 
film-maker who has ever been too tired, too discouraged, too 
cynical, too easy-going, too pammonious, too world-weary 
to insist on what he knows to be the best must take some of 
the guilt on himself. If you have a film you love and want to 
make, you lose a part of yourself if you don’t make it. 
Somehow. 


TONY RICHARDSON 

Stage and screen producer and director* Directed Look Back 
In Anger and Tke Entertainer; produced Saturday Night and 
Sunday Morning. 

TOO BUSY TO LET US HAVE ANYTHING IN WRITING, TONY 

Richardson managed to make lime, between takes daring one 
of the last days of shooting on A Taste of Honey^ to give us 
his comments. 

A Taste of Homy itself is being financed in an “orthodox” 
way: there is a distribution guarantee (through Bryanston) 
and the money comes from industry sources. The unusual 
thing is that no filming whatsoever has taken place in a studio; 
the film has been shot on location in Manchester and Salford, 
in a Chelsea house taken over as combined studio and offices, 
and elsewhere in London. It will cost about £120,000, which 
Tony Richardson regards as excessive. But £30,000 of this 
(or roughly the cost of a film like Shadows or Les Quatre 
Cents Coups) has gone on two non-productive but in this case 
essential and irreducible items: the expense of acquiring the 
property itself, and the hotel bills while the company was on 
location. A year ago, Tony Richardson tried to set the pro¬ 
duction up as he wanted it—that is, a cast wilho-ut big names 
and a non-studio schedule. He failed then^ though he believes 
he might have succeeded if he could have gone on longer. Now 
he has managed it without notable difficulty. Would it have 
been the same if the subject had not been a hit play? 


no 



‘‘Probably,’’ he says, “af the mome/it '*—the proviso having to 
do with the mood of industry backers at any given time. In 
contradiction to some of the stories one hears, he has nothing 
but appreciation for the way labour questions have been 
handled. The unions have been fully co-operative and the unit 
has had to carry no passengers, in the sense of technicians 
demanded by regulations but not strictly essential to the 
production. The unit itself has been hand-picked; and has 
been prepared, on occasion, to go through a fourteen-hour 
working day with only a short meal break, 

Tony Richardson’s view is that the situation generally has 
never been more favourable to the independent hlm-maker. 
Why^_ then, do the really adventurous independent productions 
remain so few? Because, he holds, the impetus and drive 
simply aren’t there among enough film-makers. "The really 
creative talent has been drained off into the theatre. People 
in this country haven’t got the cinema in their blood/’ Is it, 
one asks, that conditions in. the theatre are known—or at least 
are thought—to be more encouraging? Mr, Richardson argues 
that great talent creates its own conditions, as evidenced for 
instance by the way Satyajit Ray managed to make Father 
Paachali. 

The gap between a production such as his own and a £30,000 
venture is still wide. He believes good films could be made for 
£30,000, but conditionally. Either the subject should be of a 
kind which can be fitted without damage into the tight schedule 
and corner-cutting methods of second feature production; or 
the film should be made on a semi-amateur basis. It is not, he 
feels, the conditions that should concern us so much as the 
shortage of the right talent, the right enthusiasm. 


BRYAN FORBES 

Screenwriter and actor. Wrote The Angry Si/ence, The League 
of Gentfemen; has just directed his first feature, \VhistIe Down 
the Wind. 

OF COURSE WE ALL DREAM OF STUMBLING ACROSS THE ODD 

tame millionaire, or even a culture-hungry scrap merchant, 
with the odd thirty or forty thousand to spare .... but failing 
the appearance of such a mentor, I feel that the only hope for 
the young (?) talent in this country is to try and adapt the 
existing financial structure of film production to its own ends. 
It can be done, to an extent. Richard Attenborough and I 
managed to produce The Angry Silence for £99,000. It didn’t 
prove to be the box-office smash of all t ime, but neither did it 
lay an egg—the backers got their money back and will show a 
respectable profit for their investment. This paved the way, 
because this was a film turned down by all the major distribu¬ 
tion outlets (it was pre-Bryanston and Allied Film Makers). 
What it meant to us personally was that we had to work for 
nothing—literally no cash at all (though in return we retained 
the major share of the profits). We have no complaint about 
this: we wanted to make the film and one must be prepared to 
stand by one’s own convictions, if one wants final control We 
had control—control over the script, casting, cutting, music 
and so forth, and were consulted over the advertising. We were 
not subjected to outside pressures, either during the filming 
or afterwards. 

Of course the existing structure could be improved. Certain 
union policies are short-sighted—there should be provisions 
made for the small-budget film which could be made on 
location without the travellingcircusand top-heavy "‘minimum 
crew” stipulation* I don’t believe this would lead to abuse by 
producers, or unemployment within the industry. 

I realise some of the fears behind the unions’ reasoning: 
past injustices still rankle and the individual member re¬ 
members hard times and money squandered on bad films. But 
few producers are allowed the luxury of an unlimited budget 
today. (I am talking about the home-grown producer who has 



ta £ 





The "Taste af Hone/" tim£ ftiming extenors at the English Stage 
Comparty''s workshop off the Fulham Road, Photograph by Thomas Picton. 

to go cap in hand for his end money and completion guaran¬ 
tees.) I firmly believe that British technicians are second to 
none and I have always found that they respond to enthusiasm 
with enthusiasm. Too often the fault lies in the production 
office itself—the climate of enthusiasm generates from there. 
Admittedly certain restrictive practices border on lunacy and 
bear no relation to the job in hand. Most sensible technicians 
will privately agree with this, but seem unable to persuade 
their unions to gel the obvious absurdities removed. 

Film-making can never be easy: the medium itself grows 
more complex every day; audiences are getting wiser; the 
financial investment for even the most modest undertaking 
is still enormous by normal standards* Enthusiasm by itself is 
not enough—a degree of professionalism is not to be despised. 
We need an influx of new blood, and to this end I think many 
of the barriers could be lowered, but the new talent shouldn’t 
imagine that the creative impulse alone will carry them forward 
to success (or even a good review in sight and sound). 
I have been bored in the National Film Theatre and vastly 


111 






entertained in the local Odeon. It is possible to make films 
unfettered, to realise personal ambitions and visions without 
compromise, and at the same time reach a mass audience and 
entertain* This, I feel, is what we should all strive for, and the 
sooner the better. 


CARL FOREMAN 

Producer and screenwriter; most recently of The Guns of 
Navarone. 

BEFORE ATTEMPTENG TO ANSWER THE QUESTIONS RAISED BY THE 

enquiry, I may as well put myself peevishly on the record and 
say that in my opinion most of the so-called **new wave” films 
are greatly overrated, meretricious in treatment, and ignoble 
in purpose, and are successful, in the main, only because of 
the gullibility that goes with the general mood of cynicism and 
despair in the white West. I haven’t yet seen The Comecthn, 
so I can’t comment on the screen adaptation of this curious 
piece of dramaturgy. But I have seen Shadows^ which is over¬ 
rated, too, a hoax which has been swallowed whole by people 
who should know better* That is to say, it is perfectly obvious 
that Shadows is not an ‘‘improvisation,” but a lucky little picture 
in which bad actors read bad lines from a bad script, in a film 
so bad that it should be obvious to anyone who knows films 
at all that the thing has been cut and recut and completely 
re-edited from start to finish, in ways that the authors of the 
script never intended or expected. But theyVe gotten away 
with it, and more power to them* 

Having thus given an exhibition of crotchety middle-aged 
spleen, I should now like to say that it would be a fine thing 
if we had some such films in Britain. We need new film-makers 
desperately, and we need films about the contemporary scene, 
even if the reflection in the mirror is sometimes a distorted one. 

Will we get them? Probably not, for all the reasons stated 
in the enquiry. Production txjsts are too high, the unions are 
concerned only with working conditions, the archaic and 
monopolistic British distribution system wants only what it 
considers safe, and the national film subsidy pays a premium 
only on proved success. 

Why, then, the success of the “new wave” in France? 
Because production costs are much cheaper there, and because 
the French film subsidy guarantees the producer or financier 
that, at worst, he will get almost all his investment back. Given 
these two factors, it isn’t too difficult to find someone with 
money who wants to take a fairly well-insured fling in the 
cinema, particularly when the subject matter of the film, 
assuming it deals with sex, violence or perversion, is highly 
commercial. Lastly, in France, if one distributor won’t take a 
film, there are a dozen others who are hungry for something 
to sell. 

What we need in Britain (in my opinion) is a film school like 
the one in Poland, and a nationalised distribution circuit which 
will guarantee fair playing time and fair terms to producers 
who want to take advantage of such a circuit. Failing these, 
what is needed is a subsidy that will not reward already 
commercially successful films with a bonus, but rather will 
protect and foster worthy films by film-makers who are not 
content to play it safe* 


JOHN TERRY 

Managing director of the National Film Finance Corporation. 
IN AN ARTICLE IN THE SPRING ISSUE OF SIGHT AND SOUND 

surprise was expressed that the National Film Finance 
Corporation had provided the entire cash cost of production 
for Arnold Wesker’s The Kitchen. N.F.F.C., however, was 


pleased to support a project which comprised a highly original 
subject; an absorbing and exciting script; a cast strong in 
ability if not in stardom; the promise of brilliant direction 
from a newcomer to feature films; a readiness on the part of 
author, producer and director to rely largely on profits; and 
careful and economic budgeting and cost control* These 
ingredients seemed to us to justify, without any abnormal risk, 
a departure from the normal pattern of finance in order to 
make possible this unusual venture in the contemporary 
British cinema* 

It is often implied that anything worthwhile in terms of the 
creative art of film-making must necessarily be uncommercial 
and therefore repugnant to the trade establishment—by which 
in this context I mean the main providers of production finance, 
i*e. the major distributors and N.F.F.C Whilst there may well 
be difficulties in persuading exhibitors to book experimental 
or unusual pictures, the establishment in fact gives substantial 
support to new people and challenging subjects—as, for 
instance, in the recent cases of Room at the Top^ The Entertainer 
and Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. 

The introductiori to this enquiry suggests that the establish¬ 
ment is interested in financing only “commercial subjects"^— 
a phrase which 1 take to be meant as a term of abuse—and 
never extends its helping hand to the “people who are prepared 
to approach the cinema in a different way—-who have, that is, 
a passionate and desperate concern.” But where is this host of 
disappointed film-makers whose creative impulses are thus 
thwarted? To the extent to which they exist, let them come 
forward and present their projects; and, so long as these are 
well thought out and carefully prepared, I do not believe they 
will meet with such a frigid reception as they seem to expect. 
Surely few people could have a more “passionate and 
desperate concern” than the makers of 77i^ Angry Silence., 
which was produced with the full and enthusiastic support of 
the establishment* 

Rising costs are a limiting factor, but much could be done to 
curtail them if there were a “passionate and desperate con¬ 
cern” to do so on the part of those receiving excessive fees or 
carrying on restrictive practices* However, film-making is an 
expensive business and cannot be conducted in a garret with 
a few canvases, brushes and paints. Thus the film producer 
is almost invariably subject to commercial or at least moral 
pressures, whether his finance derives from the establishment 
or from his favourite aunt. Freedom from such pressures is 
not essential to art; and some of the most banal and worthless 
of films have emerged from the availability of limitless finance. 

What is certain is that there is always room at the top for 
real ability* What is uncertain is the amount of unrecognised 
talent on its way up. 


DAVID KINGSLEY 

Managing director of British Lion; formerly managing 
director of the National Film Finance Corporation. 

YOUR INTRODUCTION RAISES SOME VERY INTERESTING POINTS, 

but it appears that you are under some misapprehension if you 
assume that the distribution side of our industry is not ready 
to handle and encourage the production of films of an 
experimental nature. Most distributors are only too ready to 
handle any such films that can be sold even on a limited 
commercial basis, even if they are not suitable for wide 
distribution in this country through the major circuits. My 
company—British Lion—^jumped at the opportunity to under¬ 
take the distribution of Shadows., for which we gave a 
substantial guarantee, and we would be happy to take further 
films of that calibre if we were offered them* 

The real problem is financing these experimental films. 
Finance for film production is traditionally associated with 
distribution, but there is no reason why it should be* For every 


112 





experimenial filrn completed there are bound to be a large 
number of “unsuccessful” films from a distribution point of 
view, but it is not true to say that any directors have not 
attempted this in England. We have been offered a number of 
films of an experimental nature, which have been made by 
young producers and directors, using their own money and on 
low budgets. Unfortunately, in our opinion, none of them has 
been good enough to justify exhibition at the ordinary 
commercial cinema, in which people are asked to pay and 
expect entertainment in return. It would, of course, be unfair 
to name these films, but attempts have certainty been made. 
As you most truly say, “Independence, enthusiasm and 
devotion are no guarantee of quality,” 

i wonder if the directors and producers of experifnental 
films could use the same imagination and ingenuity in obtain¬ 
ing the necessary finance as they do to make their films. For 
example, why not try well known patrons of the arts and big 
industrial concerns outside the film industry? It is well known 
that industry sponsors films for prestige and public relations 
purposes. 

While, probably, “thirty or forty thousand pounds” would 
be an extravagant budget even for a successful experimental 
film, if this amount could be considerably pruned I think the 
money could be recouped through art house distribution 
throughout the world. Hazards might be encountered, but 
surely this would be part of the experiment, 

I believe, therefore, that the production of such films must 
continue to be financed privately. If successful, the producer 
will find no difficulty in securing distribution. Distributors 
such as British Lion are continually endeavouring to achieve 
wider and wider exhibition for films outside the general 
conception of popular entertainment. 


CHARLES COOPER 

Managing director of Contemporary Films, 

IN A DISCUSSION I HAD RECENTLY WITH JOHN ARDAGH FROM 

The Observer^ I explained to him the need for an additional 
100 cinemas throughout the country to lake care of the public 
need to present the “cream” of films from all countries now 
producing. 1 firmly believe that there is sufficient support in 
this country and, were these cinemas currently available, they 
could run on a sound commercial basis. We need a comfort¬ 
able type of cinema with approximately 500 seats, showing 
single feature films and two or three short subjects. In some 
areas programmes could be arranged on an advanced booking 
basis. This type of cinema would not only be an outlet for the 
“cream” of foreign product but also for low budget indepen¬ 
dently produced British features. Furthermore, by being an 
outlet for British documentaries, it would provide a necessary 
training ground for feature film directors of the future. 1 
believe that the establishment of a circuit of “art cinemas” 
must eventually come about, sponsored either from public 
or private sources. 

Were these cinemas now available, 1 feel sure that the 
problems raised in your enquiry would not exist, as the cost 
of production of good independent features of approximately 
£30,000 would be recovered from the domestic release. 
However, at present these additional “art cinemas” do not 
exist and the problems are still with us. 

What, then, are the possibilities for independent production 
at present in the United Kingdom? The money required can 
probably be raised from private sources or on a co-operative 
basis, and I believe the situation is improving all the lime. 
However, it must be made clear at this stage that only part of 
the investment is likely to be recovered from United Kingdom 
distribution and the balance, plus a profit, must be obtained 
from overseas sales. 

Foreign films such as The Savage Eye^ Wild Strawberries^ 



firyon Forbes rehearses with Hayhy Milk, wbo has a leading part in 
bis first feature, “Wbist/e Down tbe W}nd'\ 


Shadows, will bring back to their producers upward of £15,000 
from the British market alone. These are not British films and 
we might hope that British films could do better. In regard to 
sales abroad, here, of course, much more depends on the 
quality of the film and its suitability for overseas audiences. 
If the film is to be sold abroad, it must truly reflect life in this 
county—and not be puerile; something that can be shown at 
a major festival without embarrassment. The major film 
festivals are becoming more and more valuable as a market 
for overseas sales. 

What are the possible financial returns for the producer? 
He could expect, say, £15,000 from limited United Kingdom 
release and substantially more than this if a circuit release is 
obtained; £10,000 from the U.S.A., £5,000 from Western 
Europe; if sales are made to the U.S,S.R. and other Eastern 
European territories, this could bring about £12,000, and to 
this we may add £2,000 from other areas. We then have the 
Eady Fund payments in the United Kingdom and possible 
television exploitation at a later date. These figures can 
obviously be much higher or much lower—they will depend 
largely on the quality of the films. 

It is interesting to note that releases in the United Kingdom 
appear to set the pace for later releases in other territories. 
The producers of The Savage Eye, Shadows, Come Back, Africa, 
opened their films first of all in the United Kingdom before 
releasing them in the U.S.A. and other countries. 

The situation now is by no means hopeless and an able 
independent producer who can finance his production has a 
fair chance of success. 

As distributors we welcome this enquiry into the possi¬ 
bilities of independent production. We find today a growing 
body of distributors throughout the world who are looking 
for mature films of high quality and know what to do with 
them when they arrive. 


113 





by PENELOPE HOUSTON 

T hu silent stage at Shepperton is so-called for the 
adequate, if backhanded, reason that it*s so noisy it is 
impossible to shoot sound there. Up in the roof the birds 
seem more or less to have taken possession. At ground level, 
dotted across the 200-fooi stage, sections of the exterior set of 
The Innocents are spread out against backcloths of mournful, 
mist-shadowed parkland. An ivy-covered doorway opens into 
a topless tower; two-thirds of the frontage of Bly House, bleak 
and lop-sided, survives the removal of a missing section which 
has gone to form part of a composite set somewhere else; in 
haphazard proKimity, and still at ground Level, a crenellated 
chunk of masonry indicates a turret top—it is against these 
battlements, presumably, that the governess gets that first 
disquieting glimpse of Peter Quint. Away to the right of the 
stage is the exterior set proper : a sloping wilderness of shrubs 
and trees, the rhododendrons presumably authentic, the acid- 


'The trTfiocents*': DefaertJfi Kerr ond Jock Cfayton, 


green ferns certainly not. A weeping willow trails its paper 
leaves; its trunk dangles, in melancholy reminder of its 
artificiality, four feet or so clear of the ground. 

One is inclined to be a little derisive of these elaborate studio 
reconstructions, especially when they involve sticking 3,CMX) 
(i think) paper leaves on to a hand-made willow. The reasons, 
though, are logical enough: not so much, as had been reported, 
the impossibility of finding a suitable house, but the problem 
of shooting a film requiring seasonal change against bane 
branches, and the difficulty of planning any schedule involving 
location shooting in an English spring. How much, one 
wonders, has our seasoned pride in the unpredictability of 
English weather to do with our studios* notorious reluctance 
to move out-of-doors? 

The Innocents, though, is an interior drama in every sense of 
the word. It is Jack Clayton’s first film since Room at the Top; 
and his choice of subject—Henry James’s The Turn of the 
via the stage adaptation by William Archibald—should 
be surprising only to those who read more into Clayton’s first 
feature, regarding it as part of a movement leading towards 
Look Back in Anger and Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, 
than the director himself would have claimed for it. Talking to 
Jack Clayton soon after the release of Room at the Top, it was 
obvious that he didn’t want to see his film annexed to any 
critical group: if we called it a breakthrough for realism, we 
were doing so at our own risk. His decision to film The Turn of 
the Screw^ that least tangible of ghost stories, is an indication 
not only of an eclectic taste but of an attitude towards film- 
making. Clayton is not the kind of director for whom the 
choice of subject is itself part of the creative process. Rather, 
he picks the subject because it sparks a creative response. A 
response to what? He would tell us to wait for the film. But 
one might speculate, with every chance of misinterpreting a 
director so resistant to being pinned down, that part of the 
attraction here lay in the difficulty. 

A film about “two ghosts, two irritating children, a house¬ 
keeper and a governess”: the box-office prospects, he easily 
admits, arc not quite in the Room at the Top class. And this 
adaptation, on which Truman Capote, John Mortimer and 
William Archibald have all worked, promises to keep the story 
poised on the razor edge where Henp' James left it. James’s 
own comment on his novel was explicit and a little chilling: 
“A piece of ingenuity pure and simple, of gold, artistic calcula¬ 
tion, an ammette to catch those not easily caught . . . the 
jaded, the disillusioned, the fastidious.” The anecdote itself, 
of the corrupted children and the prowling servile spirits, 
was passed on to him, he recorded in his Notebooks, by an 
Archbishop of Canterbury. The governess was the character 
he needed to give him a central point of view, a critical aware¬ 
ness; but he deliberately chose “to rule out subjective compli¬ 
cations of her own, to keep her impersonal save for the most 
obvious and indispensable little note of neatness, firmness and 
courage.” 

Haring down the Freudian trail, interpreters have found the 
governess responsible for everything. Peter Quint, ‘‘beautiful 
but obscene”, and the poor harried Miss Jesse! (to whom, Fm 
pleased to find, Clayton is prepared to extend rather more 
sympathy than did James) dwindle as spectres to reappear as 
neurotic symptoms. But the film is not going to be a Freudian 
Turn of the Screw, Deborah Kerr, who plays the part, insists 
with Clayton’s full agreement on the element of sustained un¬ 
certainty: she believes the audience should never be quite sure. 
She appears in literally evciy scene; and she will be allowed no 
help from any of the devices of subjective narration, since 
Clayton regards their use as equivalent to an admission of 
defeat by the film-maker. 

The dialogue itself, Clayton says, will give us “more of 
James than you might expect.” Its tone will of necessity be 
heightened, a little more high-pitched than life, to an extent 


114 





which the director says he sometimes finds rather unnerving. 
But the story resists the prosaic. It must communicate its 
theme not through what happens—for what, after all, does 
happen?—but through intimations of the extraordinary. 

On the day we visited Shepperton, the scenes being worked 
on were both between governess and housekeeper. In the first, 
Mrs. Grose (Megs Jenkins) is told by the governess that she is 
to lake Flora to her uncle in London, while Miss Giddens 
stays at Bly to make her last bid to protect Miles. The take, in 
the stuffy little bedroom set, ran for the best part of two 
minutes. At first, Deborah Kerr in close-up, with Megs Jenkins 
across the room in moderately deep focus; then a track back 
by the camera, to hold the close-up; then a shifting of position 
by the actresses, to bring Megs Jenkins up to the camera and 
Deborah Kerr to the door at the back of the set. Rock-steady, 
Megs Jenkins hardly varied a movement or an intonation. But 
the scene was Deborah Kerr's; and the fining down and edging 
of it, through a series of murmured conversations between 
actress and director, became a precision operation. By the 
ninth take, suddenly and unmistakably, the tone was right. 

The second scene, coming much earlier in the story, was 
that in which Miss Giddens shows the housekeeper the letter 
with the news that Miles has been expelled from school. “Are 
you afraid he'll corrupt youT' Mrs, Grose asks, while the 
governess surrenders briefly to *'the apprehension of ridicule.’' 
The setting here was the conservatory, and as the actresses 
rehearsed, clutching their scripts and in their ordinary clothes, 
one wondered how their heavy crinolines, as well as the camera 
pursuing them on its dolly, were going to negotiate a kind of 
steeplechase course of potted plants. 

These patterns of camera movement, and the combination 
of close-ups and unusual depth of focus, are in part Jack 
Clayton’s answer to CinemaScope, in which the film is being 
shot and which he happens to dislike, Freddie Francis, the 
cameraman and a recent Oscar winner for Sons and Lovers^ 
and Deborah Kerr both commented on the ferocious heat of 
the lights needed for some of these effects. The close-ups. 


Above: Jock Chyton rebeorses with Pome/o franklin (Flcra). Bdow: 
Dthorah Kerr and Alortio Stepben^. 

Deborah Kerr said, brought the camera so nearly on top of her 
that she felt herself going cross-eyed as she and it confronted 
each other at a distance of inches. Another technical effect, 
worked out by Clayton and his editor, Jim Clark, will be the 
me of dissolves burning out into white instead of fading into 
the usual black. 

From all this, the impression is of a calculated visual 
finesse. The Innocents, one can safely say, is going to have style. 
But Jack Clayton is not more obviously a Jamesian director 
than he is a film-maker wholly sympathetic to John Braine's 
rougher prose. He is loo wary of the pretentious to commit 
himself to general statements; and too shrewd to be drawn, for 
instance, even into an unqualified statement of liking for the 
subjects he chooses to film. The Turn of the Screw is something 
he has wanted to do for a long time: it is for the audience to 
take it from there. 






T he CANNES FESTIVAL OF 1959 took place under the sign 
of the French cinema and of the movement that 
everyone was beginning to call the nouveiie mgue. 
Grouped together, and praised equally, were Marcel Camus^s 
Orfeu N^gto^ Francois Truffaut^s Les Quaire Cettis Coups and 
Alain Resnais’s Hiroshima mon Amour. Since then, the 
enthusiasm with which French audiences and critics greeted 
this new trend in cinema has become progressively subject to 
the law of diminishing returns. Although several films by 
young directors were put forward for the French selection at 
Cannes, 1961 (and Une Aussi Longue Absence, the first feature 
by the film editor Henri Colpi, was finally chosen as an official 
entry and shared the Festival Grand Prix), the excitement 
of 1959 was missing. In two years, the situation of the French 
cinema has been radically transformed. 

Early in 1961 Le Film Fran^aiSy the weekly trade paper which 
regularly publishes production and distribution statistics for 
French films, printed a detailed table which seems worth 
reproducing here. Under the heading: “67 directors have 
undertaken their first feature films in 1959 and I960,’* the 

JACQUES SICLIER 


NEW 

WAVE 


AND 

FRENCH 


magazine published a check list of the new film-makers. (See 
box on next poge.) 

Sixty-seven directors for 65 films, two. La Recreation and 
La Peau et les Osy having been made in collaboration. If we 
add to this the features made by newcomers during 1958, and 
some second or third films which have followed these initial 
ventures, we can conclude that during three years about a 
hundred films have been made by directors who have entered 
upon their profession in this period. Nothing like this has 
ever been recorded before in the French cinema. Confronted 
with such figures, one can easily understand how the whole 
nouveiie vague legend has grown up. 

The original nucleus 

IN FACT, THE NUCLEUS essentially consisted of the critical team 
of Call ters du Cinema, who in their writings had defined and 
energetically sustained a “politique des auteurs”. Let us 
name Claude Chabrol, Frangois Truffaut, Jacques Rivettc, 
Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Jean-Luc Godard, Eric Rohmer 
and Pierre Kast. Add the names of Alexandre Astruc, Jean- 
Pierre Melville, Agnes Varda, Roger Vadim and Louis Malle, 
who can be regarded as the forerunners; and those of Claude- 
Bernard Aubert, Jacques Baratier, Michel Drach, Marcel 
Hanoun, Chris Marker, Jean-Daniel Pollet and Jean Rouch, 
who have all worked—as at the outset did the directors from 
the Cahiers group—in conditions which are not those of 
traditional French production. We now have 19 names, 
relatively few of them figuring in the above list for 1959, which 
can be grouped together under one heading. Franju, like 
Camus, should be listed among those directors who have 
followed standard methods of production; and the case of 
Alain Resnais is a very special one. 

The French cinema has changed its entire aspect since 1958, 
and there has been a minor revolution in techniques of 

8e/ow; Astruc's *La Proie pour TOmbre", 


CINEMA 




production and shooting. The nonvelk vague directors wanted 
to prove that one could make salable films without expensive 
stars, through reduced shooting schedules, the use of natural 
locations, day and night shooting out in the streets, and the 
employment of small units. They also wanted to ensure that 
the characters in their films were living people, not the 
unchanging, stereotyped marionettes of the so-called “quality” 
productions with Ihetr impeccable dramatic construction. 
They wanted to show their own generation’s ways of living 
and thinking; to tackle issues not previously raised in the 
French cinema. Coming fifteen >ears later, the attempt in 
itself was comparable to that of the Italian neo-realists—as 
Les Quaire Cents Caups^ for instance, illustrates. The develop¬ 
ment of television, too, find made its impact. A certain kind 
of reportage and “direct” cinema (shooting with a hand-held 
camera; an acting slylecloserto the interview than the theatre) 
came into fashion along with the rtouveile vague. In 1950 or so, 
such experiments would only have been practicable in the 
16mm. amateur field, while to become a feature director one 
had first to have served as an assistant. The cinema profession 
had since 1945 been one of the most strictly subject to rules 


and regimentation, (It is only lately, with the coming into 
effect of a new system of state support, that this situation has 
begun to change.) No film producer would have dared to put 
his trust in Truffaut, Chabrol or their contemporaries unless 
they had themselves provided proof that their theories were 
well-founded. 

Another contribution from this original nucleus, and more 
particularly from Roger Vadim and Louis Malle, was a new 
kind of moral outlook, or rather an “anti-morality”, arrived 
at through a peremptory statement of the relativity of 
traditional social and religious attitudes to questions of sexual 
freedom. Before Vadim and Et Dieu Crea ia Fcmme^ no one 
had shown us a woman character quite as contemporary (and 
also as real) as Brigitte Bardot. The French cinema had stopped 
short with the “sentimental bomgeoise^^y the sort of woman 
represented over the years, with considerable talent, by an 
actress like Danielle Darrieux. Now Brigitte Bardot^ and later 
Jeanne Moreau, came to be treated less as actresses than as 
symbols. They raised the standard of the new amorality, 
which in turn was an effort to deal with relations between men 
and women as they actually are. 

There are two other factors worth noting. The young French 
directors have never claimed to constitute a “school”, despite 
the ideas and theories they hold in common. Their works are 
all individually conceived, and only the fact that the Cahkrs 
du Cinema team has formed a kind of unit, held together by 
friendship, to break through the barriers of official French 
production, has made it possible to believe in the existence 
of an organised movement. Young film-makers from Hungary, 
Poland and Italy, who took part along with the French in 
round table discussions at Venice in 1959, were thoroughly 
disappointed to find that the nouveUe vague was not going to 
produce the sort of ideological manifesto they had hoped for. 
A further point is that one can no longer talk of totally 
independent production. Truffaut, Chabrol and Rivcite made 
their first films largely with their own money; but, in con¬ 
sequence, young film-makers can now work through the 
normal channels, having secured those guarantees of 
freedom of expression which they demanded. 

The Cahiets du Cinema group managed to break through 
the professional system, so easing the way for a number of 
beginners who w'ould otherwise have had to wait years before 
getting the chance to prove themselves. Among the 67 directors 
listed by Le Film Frangais, one can name: 

17 short film directors 
14 assistants 

5 from television and radio 

6 actors 

6 producers or production directors 
5 writers (among them Jean Giono) 

3 journalists (Rohmer, Godard, Doniol-Valcroze) 

2 film editors 
2 screenwriters 
1 documenrarist 
I film exporter 
I student 
1 lawyer 

The assistants, that is to say those with traditional pro¬ 
fessional qualifications, account for only 20 per cent. The 
largest group (25 per cent.) is made up of directors of short 
films. And this is not surprising: since 1954, France’s short 
film production has been a forcing-house for talent. Franju 
and Resnais have of course come out of it; but until recently 
it was far from easy to make the move from short to feature 
work. Short film production constituted the test-bench; an 
assistant directorship demonstrated a professional qualifica¬ 
tion. And 55 per cent, of the new directors have other 
backgrounds. 

All this helps to explain why the idea has got around that 
anyone can now make a film in France. This is only partly true. 
What is true is that everyone now to make films, just 
as in 1945 everyone wanted to write novels or poems. The 
cinema has become the preferred means of expression for 


1959 

ARhfANi). Pierre 

Les Piques 

CALDERONp Ci^rald 

Le grand secret 

dard, Fr^d^rk 

Ufte gueuie comtne ta mienne 

DRACHp Mkhcl 

On n^enterre pas le dimanche 
La corde raitie 

DUDRUMET, Jean-Char!es 

GAISSEAU, Pierre-Dominique 

Le del et ta boue 

GIR, Francois 

Man pate le gifatt 

GOUARP. Jean-Luc 

A bout de soujd^e 

GROSPIERRE, LOuk 

Le iravail, e'est /o iibert^ 

hanoun, Marcel 

Le kuiii^me Jour 

KERCHNEH. JcaH 

La dragee haute 

MENEGOZ, Robert 

MCMDKY, Jean-Pierre 

Im mfliteme fenitre 

Les dragueurs 

NAHUM. Jacques 

Le Saint mine ta d&nse 

OURV; Girard 

La main ehaude 

PAVIOT, Paul 

Pantafaskas 

PECAS, MaJt 

Le cetcie videax 

POLLET, Jean-Da niel 

La ligne de mire 

ROHMER. Eric 

Le signe da tlan 

ST MAURICE. Christian de 

Suspense au deuxiime bureau 

SAUTET, Claude 

Classe tons risques 

VALCROZEp Jacques Doniol 

L*eau d la bouche 

VALEREp lean 

La sentence 

VILLA. Jacques R. 

Les petits chats 

1960 

AGABRAp Edmond 

Caravane pour Zagora 

ALBicxxrco, Gabriel 

La fiUe aux yeux d^qr 

ANDREJp Yannick 

Samedi soir 

BERTHlER, JacquCS 

Le temps d*un refiet 

CLEMENT. Michel 

Le bal des espiom 

OOLLIN, Fabien 

La recreation 

COLP!. Henri 

Une amsi longue absence 

CORNU. Jacques-G^rard 

L'komme d femmes 

DANiNos. Jean-Daniel 

Vn Martien d Paris 

DEMV, Jacques 

Lola 

PeRay, Jacques 

Le gigolo 

DESREUMEAUX. AndrA 

La gorge siche 

pewever, Jean 

Les konneurs de la guerre 

DUCREST, Philippe 

La craix et la foanniire 

FABiANi, Henri 

Le botiheur esi pour demain 

FERMAUD, Michel 

Les portes claquent 

FOG, Dany 

La mort a les yeux bleus 

FRiHDMASNp Serge 

Les magiciennes 

GATTi. Armand 

L'enctos 

OAUTHERfN. Pierre 

Au coeur de la vilte 

GiDNOp Jean 

Cresus 

GiRAULT. Jean 

Les pique-ossiettes 

GOBBI. Sergio 

L*espace d'un maiin 

GRiMBLAT. Pkrrc 

Me faire ca a moi 

La penduie d Salomon 

IVERNEL, Vicky 

KALlFA. Max 

Lengrenage 

KERCHKRONp Jean 

Kacflwres en epfer 

LAMOUREUXp Robctt 

LELoucH. Claude 

La brune que voild 

Le propre de Fhomme 

LFTERRiER, Frani^ojs 

Les mauvais coups 

LISBON A, Joseph 

Le panler d cral^s 

MAONiERp Claude 

R^veiiie-tOi\ ckirie 

MOREUlL, Franco k 

MO USSY, Marcel 

Im ricr^atlon 

St Tropez Blues 

PANiGEL. Jacques 

La peau et les os 

KJITRENAUDp JaCQUCS 

Les amours de Paris 

HOZiER, Jacques 

Adieu^ Philippine 

SALTEL, Roger 

Jugezdes biens 

SASSY. Jean-Paui 

La peau et les m 

SECHANp Edmond 

UOurs 

soulanes, Louis 

Les fiUes s^meni le veni 

viERNE. Jeart-Jacques 

La fite espagnole 

zaphjratos, Henri 

Les nympkettes 


117 









Be^^a<^ette Lofont and Jean-Ooude Brioly ^n ChabroVs 
*"Les Gode/ureoujf'". 


those tagged by Georges Sadoul as “the 1960 generation”; 
and, at any rate during the last two years, this generation has 
been able to find favourable conditions in the film industry. 
In fact it should be noted that of the 67 directors, only four 
(Michel Drach, Jean-Daniel Pollet, Eric Rohmer and Claude 
Lelouch) have made “fringe” productions. The others have 
been working in more or less standard conditions. 

Writing, however, just about the time of the 1961 
Cannes Festival, the second anniversary of the official and 
international triumph of the young French cinema, there is a 
further point worth making. About thirty features made by 
newcomers between 1959 and the beginning of 1961 have yet 
to find distribution through the regular channels. 

Public Reaction 

THIS MIGHT BE ATTRIBUTED to the difficulty of absorbing such 
a contingent of films into the distribution system. The figures 
for annual production, including co-productions, continue to 
rise: 124 features in 1958; 137 in 1959, 165 in I960, The top 
figure reached previously, before the nouvetle was 

1957’s exceptional total of 141 films. But for the last two years 
French films, with the exception of “quality” productions 
such as Plein Soleii or “prestige” pictures like La and 

La Pnneesse de C/evej, have been getting shorter runs in the 
chief Paris cinemas. Another important factor has come up: 
the mounting public dissatisfaction with the work of the young 
film-makers, an attitude which has in turn led to caution 
among exploiters and distributors. There was a nouvelle vague 
fashion, and now it^s at an end. 

This change of mood is partly explained by the over-literary 
or intellectual calibre of some films, such as Hiroshima man 
Amour or Le Bel Age, But there is also a reaction against the 


scandalous or exhibitionist aspect of so many productions, 
Louis Malle’s Les Amanis had the appeal of novelty—or 
pseudo-novelty, since its level was really that of Extase, that 
bogus erotic masterpiece of the Thirties. Since then, the public 
has grown bored with watching endless stories about students, 
artists, professional men, people essentially of the cinema* 
preoccupied solely with questions of sex, shades of libertinage 
or the philosophy of love. All French films are beginning to 
look alike; and the directors, whose world is so restricted and 
who only really know and talk about the intellectual circles 
of Paris, must take their full share of the responsibility. The 
face of modern youth as represented in these films {notably 
those of Chabrol), the perpetual to-and-fro of bored and 
restless couples, no longer excites the public. And the pro¬ 
ducers, who have tried to keep only what seemed to them 
commercial out of the new ideas, who have asked young 
directors to make nouveUe vague films on the cheap in order 
to profit from them, must shoulder much of the blame. They 
have turned the nouveUe vague style into a cJichd. Les Cousins 
having been a success (and itself coming after Carnd’s Les 
Tricheurs), we have seen in quick succession Les Dragueurs^ 
Les Lionceaux^ Les MarioUes, Les Godeiureaux,, all taking up 
much the same themes and characters, Pierre Kast’s Le Bel 
Age^ a philosophic essay on modern love, has yielded its 
questionable progeny in DonioJ-Valcroze’s VEau a la Bouche 
and A Coeur Battant^ Fran<;ois MoreuiPs La Ricriation^ 
Jean-Pierre Mocky’s Un Couple and Philippe de Broca’s 
UAmant de Cinq Jours. Two directors have even treated the 
identical subject—the story of a woman who wants a child, 
quarrels over this with her husband, and lakes a lover. De 
Broca made the story as Les Jeux de PAmour\ Godard has 
just retold it as line Femme est une Femme. 

The young film*makers have also been under fire for their 
lack of technical expertise. Many of their films are made 
sloppily and imprecisely, with an air of having been tacked 
together. Many of the beginners, loo. revert to traditions 
which have now served their time^ such as i\vt film noir or the 
glossy piece seasoned with a dash of eroticism. The situations 
are themselves familiar; the direction is liable to be academic 
or slapdash. And the result is that audiences, confronted 
with this return to traditional genres, are turning instead to 
films made by specialists in these particular fields. Henri 
Ntfaei\Jt\WLe President, for instance, did better than Molinaro’s 
La Mort de Belle, although these are both Stmenon adapta¬ 
tions and although Molinaro is certainly one of the most 
technically adept of the younger directors. But there is now a 
kind of suspicion and resentment of anything having the 
nouveUe vague label attached; and the public has seen enough 
mediocre films during the last year to excuse its attitude, 

A practical result: all the new French films by young 
directors shown during the last three months have been 
commercial failures, those opening in Paris at the two big 
first-run cinemas of the Pathe chain (Le Marignan, on the 
Champs Elys^es; Le Frangais on the boulevards) falling 
conspicuously fiat. Truffaut’s Tlrez sur le Pianiste^ Chabrol’s 
Les Godelureatix, Astruc’s La Prole pour rOmbre and even 
Franju’s third feature, Pleins Feux sur PAssassin, have done 
only mediocre business. Jacques Demy’s fine film Lola was a 
failure on the Champs Elysdes, although a showing at a 
smaller cinema in Montparnasse brought better results. And 
we have reached a point where the box-office failure of one 
young director’s film is likely to lead almost automatically to 
the abandonment of a similar production already planned. 
When the distributors lose confidence, the producers follow 
their lead. It may seem surprising that Chabrol, who hasn’t 
had a box-office success since Les Cousins, has all the same 
been able to make A Double Tour, Les Bonnes Femmes and 
Les Godelureaux in rapid succession. But Chabrol’s dazzling 
beginning brought him numerous offers and he signed 
contracts which are only gradually being honoured. His stock 
has certainly fallen, and it remains to be seen whether he will 
be able to retain the producers' confidence. 


118 





The critics have also played their part, and their record 
must be severely judged. After Le Beau Serge and Les Amanfs 
enthusiasm ran wild: any kind of new venture could be assured 
of uncontrolled admiration* Everything was good; everything 
was beautiful; each new picture as it came up was ‘The best 
film of the nouvelle vague,’^ It was the critics who managed to 
bundle Camus, Resnais, Franju and the Caiuers directors 
confusingly together. And then, with a sudden change of front, 
they began a policy of denigration just as systematic as their 
previous adulation* With the exception of the little group 
which has taken over from the Cahiers dii Cmema team, and 
some provincial critics who have been able to judge the films 
and the situation with rather more detachment, the French 
critics have not known how to support works which deserved 
their backing or to adopt a point of view which was not 
inflamed* Too often, they have seemed afraid of appearing 
out of touch. 

The nouvelle vague^ however, is not just a sham* The action 
of Truffaut, Chabrol and Godard has been decisive in two 
directions: it compelled a reconsideration of the system of 
French production, and it was the driving force of a dn^ma 
d^auteurs. The cinema, in France and to a lesser extent 
throughout the world, can now be regarded as an art for 
individuals. This notion, which has been turning up in 
writing and criticism during ten years, has now moved out of 
the theoretical stage. Truffaut, Chabrol (even in his most 
arguable work) and Godard are using the camera in order to 
make us look at the world differently. In spite of an identity of 
themes and subjects in the work of some directors who have 
emerged from Cahiers du Cin^ma^ each one^s films shows us a 
different style* The producers’ mistake has been to assume 
that there existed a kind of nouvelle vague style (like the 
season^s style of the big fashion houses), applicable to any 
brand of production. And the mistake of some of the new¬ 
comers was to believe that the films they longed to make, and 
to make in freedom, must of necessity be masterpieces. 

Among the hundred or so films produced over the last three 
years, there was bound to be a good deal of wastage. In the 
same way, the innumerable novels by young writers which 
have been brought out during the last ten years by one 
celebrated publishing house have mostly faded into oblivion. 
But a first novel, of which 3,000 copies are printed, is a very 
different matter from a film which, to be viable, must have 
some degree of commercial success. This is the perpetual, and 
still insoluble, problem of the relation betw^n art and industry. 

An alternative course would have been to set up an in¬ 
dependent production system on the fringe of the traditional 
system, with an appropriate distribution scheme; and this has 
to some extent hap^ned* But the commercial failure of many 
of these films springs partly from the fact that they were 
distributed through the big circuits, so reaching a public 
insufficiently prepared and alerted* In spite of some brilliant 
successes (/> Beau Serge^ Les Cousins, Les Quatre Cents Coups, 
A Bout de Souffle), these low budget films were really designed 
for the art houses, where the price of seats is lower than in the 
circuit cinemas and where audiences are looking for some¬ 
thing more than entertainment. The nouvelle vague has not 
been a laboratory cinema, but it could not expect to make an 
immediate and lasting conquest of the big public since it 
involved the establishment of a new language. It*s the un¬ 
resolved problem of film distribution which is behind the 
striking defeat we are recording at the moment. 

A New Language 

WRITING LAST APRIL in France-Ohservoieur, Andre S. Labarthe 
put forward a comparison between the young cinema and the 
new French novel (Alain Robbe-Grillet, Michel Butor, 
Nathalie Sarraut, etc.). This was the first major attempt to 
analyse connections which have often enough been ad¬ 
umbrated, The “new noveP*, according to Nathalie Sarraut, is 
suspicious of “whatever the author’s imagination suggests.” 


It has thrown out anecdote, psychological, social and 
functional significance, romantic feeling, even the traditional 
literary forms, in order to “try to construct a more solid, more 
immediate world,” by giving it objective expression. It is here 
that the young cinema links up with the young novel. In 
modern films the story, the kind of dramatic construction so 
dear to the “scenarists’ cinema” (that of Clouzot, Cayatte, 
Carn6 and Clement) has lost its importance. The usual 
stylistic devices are no less suspect than the conventions, so 
that we are gradually seeing the disappearance of such things 
as dissolves, cross-cutting and more especially flashbacks. The 
flashback, says Labarthe, is no longer required ^'‘par cel 
ensemble de significations qu^'on appelle une bistoirey The 

Above: Michel Subor in *'Le Petit Soidat**. Below: jean-Ctaude Brialy, 
Anna Karina and jeon-Luc Godard (right) on tfre set of "C/ne Femme est 
Une femme''. 




!19 




new language is bound to correspond with the new pre¬ 
occupations. It has less to do with telling a story than with 
meaning; with giving expression to some immediate reality 
and so restoring to the cinema its true character* which is that 
of an art de Vapparence. 

The cinema of fiction and psychological interpretation, the 
cinema which developed from the theatre and which always 
allowed its audience some fixed point from which to take its 
bearings, is not the concern of the young directors; instead, 
they are turning to a literary cinema of individual expression. 

Un Cinema hors du temps .... 

HAVING outlined THE SITUATION* and tried to analyse it as 
objectively as I can* my final verdict on the young French 
cinema must be rather a severe one. Although its aims were 
defensible, and its first actions deserved support, one can only 
be disturbed at the situation it has now created for the French 
cinema as a whole. The films of a small group, as well as their 
moral and intellectual attitudes* have infected* as it were* a 
whole generation of neophytes* who in their efforts to enter 
the Temple have set themselves to a slavish copying of the 
pioneers. The death of Andre Bazin unhappily meant that 
criticism lost a lucid thinker who might have helped to resist 
some of these errors of judgment. 

The films of the Cahiers dir^lors have set the tone. Most of 
them (1 except Frangois Truffaut's) have resolutely turned their 
backs on authentic social reality and have immersed us in the 
complexes and obsessions of an intellectual world concerned 
primarily with preaching total disengagement, A Bout de 
Sot/ffle was this group's intellectual manifesto, Le Petit Soldat 
is its ideological manifesto; and the fact that Godard's film 
has been banned for political reasons (the references to the 
situation created between the F,L,N, and the extreme right 
wing groups by the Algerian war) should not deceive anyone 
as to its true character. The ‘iittle soldier'' (played by Michel 
Subor* and a variation on Belmondo's anarchistic bandit of 
A Boat de Sotfffie), indulges in a profession of faith which 
belongs to Jean-Luc Godard, and which takes up themes 
scattered through other films. Political theories of right and 
left are meaningless, as are moral and social values; women 
are easy objects for physical love, but are not to be trusted; 
there exists no other ideal than the acte gratidt; and force 



always wins out over intelligence. In spite of this last proposi¬ 
tion, Le Petit Soldat also demonstrates that this ‘‘new cinema" 
is one of intellectuals who arc in no doubt about their own 
superiority. The only moral is an aesthetic one. But this 
rejection of involvement of course leads to another kind of 
involvement* even if our artists appear too naive to admit it. 

This "cinema of scorn” is the creation of a limited group. 
But there is a second hazard to the French cinema* originating 
in that transformation of screen language 1 mentioned earlier. 
Films are moving out of time* cutting themselves adrift from 
the social organisation. Although it is reassuring to see 
Alexandre Astruc's La Froie pour rOmhre making a real 
attempt at last to tackle some of the relationships between 
men and women in modern society* this is only an isolated 
case and one which does not seem to be rallying much support. 
In its conquest of a new language, the cinema is being led—as 
the novel has been^-into a kind of formal abstraction which 
is likely to cut it off from the mass public. The misunder¬ 
standing aroused by Jac<|ues Demy's Lola is relevant here. 
On the one hand, this is a film which runs happily counter to 
the prevailing mood of cynicism and intellectual desiccation. 
It is a poetic and tender work* which allows love its romantic 
aspect in its story of a cabaret singer at Nantes and the return 
to her* after seven years* of the man she first loved. On the 
other hand* the story's narrative method, bringing three 
periods of time together into a single spatial continuity, 
certainly makes it difficult to assimilate at a first viewing. Of 
course such experiments ought to be encouraged; and Lola 
gives the same sort of pleasure one gets from the concert music 
of Mozart. But the creation of this kind of purely aesthetic 
emotion involves risks of which Jacques Demy himself is 
well aware. 

This evolution of language has recently reached its furthest 
point with Alain Resnais's new film, VAnnie Derniere a 
Marienbad. Here young cinema and young novel are really 
linked, since the script is by the novelist Alain Robbe-Grillet, 
In a baroque German chateau, a sort of grand hotel for the 
rich of some undefined society* a man obstinately tries to 
revKe memories for a woman of their earlier liaison—a 
relationship which may or may not have really existed. Past* 
present and future intersect simultaneously* and the spectator 
is given no guide through this labyrinth. All Antonioni's 
researches into time and duration are atomised by this film, 
which is certainly the most original, as well as the most 
startling, w'ork produced by the French cinema. Direction and 
cutting achieve an identical mastery, making it the finest 
example of that "writing for the screen” which characterises 
a cinema d'auteitrs. In fact, all the elements only sketched in 
Hiroshima mon Amour here find complete expression. 

But the totality of this success also serves to indicate the 
limitations of a literary cinema wholly detached from any 
psychological* social or moral implications. Images finally 
become little more than a succession of ideograms. Actors, 
often enough, are accorded no more and no less aesthetic 
meaning than the painted ceilings and columns* the gilded 
doors, the fountains and statues which surround them. If 
the film, in so far as screen language is concerned, is an 
advance on Hiroshima^ it also marks a step back from the 
actual world. It is g^d that Alain Resnais exists, as an 
inimitable artist. But isn't there a risk that these intellectuals 
(and I'm not talking of Resnais himself, but of the nouvelle 
vague nucleus), already somewhat given to contemplating 
tlieir own navels* may turn the French cinema into something 
for initiates only? Progressively, this young cinema is losing 
itself behind a curtain of smoke and dreams; and this cinema* 
which has been described as so representative of its time* is 
in reality as remote from the actual as anything one can 
imagine. 


/tooiri Coutard, cameraman of "Ttr^z sar te Pioniste" and Bout de 
Sou/f/e", with Anouk Aimie on the set of 


m 



I N TH E 
PICTURE 


On and Off Broadway 

CECiLE STARR Writes: Shadows opened and closed on Broadway in 

a matter of five or six weeks and is now playing at one of the small 
art houses in Greenwich Village. This much-talked about improvi- 
sational film about Negroes^ whites and in-betweens caught in the 
mechanism of a huge city was originally the enthusiastic ‘^discovery'’ 
of Jonas Mekas, who first planned to show it at the Waldorf- 
Astoria at a benefit performance for his magazine Fiim Culiure. 
After the programme had been announced, and $10 tickets bought 
and paid for, the film was withdrawn so that some of the scenes 
could be re-shot. Some while later the second version was shown 
by Cinema 16^ incidentally without any announcement that it was 
the second version. Later again, the first version was shown, and 
publicised as the first version. A comparison of the two showed 
that in re-shooting for more continuity and story build-up, some 
of the original spontaneity had been lost. The second version was 
bought by British Lion and shown successfully in England and on 
the continent. What is playing here, according to Jonas Mekas in 
his Village Voice film review column, is “the third version of the 
movie: kslled, cut, and quartered, like a slaughtered pig.” Its 
director, John Cassavetes, is now thoroughly launched on a Holly¬ 
wood career with Paramount, and presumably will not want for 
other assignments. 

Shadows, by the way, is the only evidence 1 have found of a 
“new American wave” in and around New York, The Connection 
will certainly be shown here after it has made its way in Europe. 
Other than that, the feature films we read about in the European 
film journals either haven't been released, or haven't been finished, 
or haven’t been started. In typical American style, we set up the 
machinery for publicity, select a fancy name and recruit members, 
and then begin to think about getting some work done. 

In contrast, European films are doing big business in the New 
York art houses, and we’re a year or two behind. Never on Sunday 
is in its thirtieth week i Ballad of a Soldier in its twentieth; the dubbed 
Don Quixote,, fifteenth; Virpn Spring, thirteenth; and Breathless, 
says Variety, is "'sockeroo” in its fourteenth week. VAvventura, in 
its sixth week, is rallying from harsh reviews in the New York 
Times, the Herald Tribune and the New Yorker. Bosley Crowther 
{New York Times) linked VAvventura to a tendency “among a few 
film-makers in Europe , . . to go quite mystical, esoteric, and even 
intellectually abstract . . . Among those guilty he named first 
Bergman, whose films Crowther condemned for obscurity until 
their box-office popularity {with The Face, for instance) disproved 
the points he was so effectively making. Next came Resnais, for 
Hiroshima man Amour; then Truffaut, for the conclusion of Les 
Quatre Cents Coups; and now Antonioni and VAvventura. 

“Frankly, we do not gather what Signor Antonioni is trying to 
prove^or to say, or perhaps just to create as an aesthetic impulse— 
in this film, which is so graphically constructed and brilliantly 
photographed that it leaves one feeling there must be some clear 
point.” And, Crowther adds, “if we simply do not dig it, we imagine 
there will be others who will also find it too far out.” Such reviews 
have hurt the film very much, but we guess that by the time some 
of Antonioni's other films play here, and an audience is built up 
that does gather and dig, possibly the critics' eyes will see better 
into the substance of the films. It has happened before. It can easily 
happen again. 

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, on the other hand, has 
received raves in just about every newspaper and magazine* 
**Unlike VAvventura and other pictures about emptiness and 


Marhn Brando and Lew/s Mi/estone 
on £fie set of “Mutiny on the Bounty”, 


despair,” said Mr. Crowther, '"this one is clear-eyed and conclusive. 
It is strong and optimistic* It is 'in’ ”, And m it is, grossing in its 
first two weeks an all-time high for the Baronet Theatre. The film 
was generally and favourably compared to Room at the Top; Archer 
Winsten in the New York Post called it “the best British picture of 
modern times,” or so the ads say. (Incidentally, Winsten is one of 
the best critics we have; he has bwn on the film staff of the Post for 
over 25 years, and has managed to survive by being its ski editor 
as well.) 

La Doice Vita opened in April, with lots of fanfare and rave 
reviews to spare. Paul V. Beckley (Herald Tribune), who had hedged 
on VAvventura, wrote of the Fellini film that it is “not only an 
exciting experience, it is likely to be the most talked about movie of 
the year. Nobody who sees it will forget it.” Mr* Crowther con¬ 
cluded that “it emerges one of the most moral and sobering 
exhibitions ever put on the screen.” Playing at a legitimate theatre 
two shows a day, La Dolce Vita costs from $1,50 to S3.50 per seat, 
approximately twice the normal price range. Attendance figures 
show that most performances are running somewhat short of 
capacity, but there is little doubt that the film will be a success in 
every sense of the word. 

Don’t think, however, that the entire country is looking at big- 
name foreign films. Such films must succeed in New York if they 
are to do well in other American cities, but success in New York 
does not guarantee success in the hinterland. A news columnist on 
the Denver Post (population 650,000), last spring lamented the 
fact that The Worid of Aptt, which was a big attraction in New York, 
closed after one week in a Denver an theatre. The same theatre 
played Carry On, Nurse, which the columnist described as “a 
commonplace British comedy,” for seven months. 


Contrast 

NEXT MONTH (AUGUST 23rd) Will scc the first issue of the new 
television quarterly Contrast, to be published by the British Film 
Institute with the financial backing of the BBC and Granada 
Television, The magazine reflects a unique combination of interests: 
the determination of the BBC and Granada to sponsor a critical 
quarterly, indicating their feting that television has not been 
getting the critical attention in depth which they think it demands, 
as well as the Institute's own commitments in the television field. 
The National Film Archive has for some time been acquiring 
television material—as of course it must if its record of screen 
history is to be in any way complete; and on the educational side 
television and film cannot really be separated. We have been writing 
about television in sight and sound for the best part of a 
decade, though in the margin, as it were, of the cinema* And 



121 





although we will no longer be publishing regular articles on TV 
subjects* we may still find ourselves reserving a kind of poaching 
right on our colleagues' territory, 

Television necessarily overlaps the cinema, Denis MitcheH’s 
programme on Chicago, for instance, could just as well have been 
made for the bigger screen; the Ed Murrow documentary on the 
migrant American harvest workers* on the other hand, used 
techniques that belong much more to television than the cinema; 
and a film made up of stills and photographs and documents* tike 
the recent programme on the real West* belongs rightly to television* 
But these are fragments, and hair-splitting divisions: television is 
whatever the television screen shows. Contrast will be concerned 
with television internationally* and with information as well as 
comment; its size* though not its format* will be similar to that of 
SIGHT AND SOUND* Its editor is Peter Black* television critic of 
the Daiiy MatL Recently he laid claim to be the originator of the 
crack that it's not the commercials one finds insupportable but the 
programmes interrupting them. A robust degree of disillusionment, 
combined with an enthusiasm for the things television can do and 
should do, should guarantee Contrast's independence of outlook. 

Rome Commentary 

ROBERT HAWKINS Thc surprising, and still increasing, box- 

oflfice success of a number of critically acclaimed Italian quality films 
on the home market has equipped producers with new courage and 
the determination to balance their epic-laden programmes with a 
larger percentage of prestige items* One welcome result has been 
that several long-dormant projects have begun moving off the shelf^ 
where they have gathered dust during the recent lean years* 

De Sica* for one* has finally begun his often postponed Last 
Judgment, featuring an announced cast of 131 featured players and 
a screenplay by Cesare Zavattini, with locations in Naples* Mystery 
momentarily surrounds the next Antonioni film, which should get 
roiling this summer* One knows only that it will feature Monica 
Vitti among its players, and that one sequence has already been shot 
by Antonioni during last spring's total eclipse of the sun* There is 
some mystery also regarding Pietro Germi's current production* 
An Italian Divorce^ featuring a mustachioed Marcello Masiroianni 
and being filmed behind closed doors on Sicilian locations; and 
Fellini's two new projects: a sketch which he terms a ‘‘scherzo" or 
“divertissement", starring Anita Ekberg, in Boccaccio 70 (the 
other episodes to be directed by De Sica, Visconti and Monicelli), 
and his new feature, said to continue one of the themes left dangling 



in La Bake Vita^ though without involving the same characters or 
settings* Other intriguing "'unknown quantities" include Castellant's 
The Bandit, many months in production with amateur players in re¬ 
mote Calabrian villages and made with carte blanche from the 
producer, Angelo Rizzoli* who has yet to see a foot of it; and 
Vittorio De Seta's first feature after many brilliant documentaries* 
Shot in Sardinia, this is likewise about banditry. 

The ranks of promising young producers have been swelled here 
recently by the initial success of Alfredo Bini's new Arco Film, 
whose first project was Mauro Bolognini’s // Belt Antonio. The 
same director has now made La Viaccla for Bini. Also on the Arco 
agenda: Accattone, a first feature by the scriptwriter Pier Paolo 
Pasolini; MeteUo, from a novel by Vasco Pratolini; D^Amore Si 
Miiore and / Nuovi Angeti, to mark the film debut of two more new 
directors. Carlo Gregoretti and MinoGuerrini* Bini sensibly intends 
to let bigger producers compete with Hollywood on an international 
level, expecting to keep his own production programme to an 
“artisan" scale where each project can be personally followed 
through. 


Ford Omnibtis 

JOHN RUSSELL TAYLOR writes: Anyone given to reading the small 
print in the TV Times may have been surprised a month or two back 
to discover under the cast list of a Wagon Train episode—and not at 
first glance one of the more exciting* since it did not even advertise 
a guest star—the legend “Directed by John Ford". The Coker 
Craven Story, Ford's only venture into television so far, was in 
fact undertaken primarily for fun, Ford being, of course, an old 
friend of the show's star. Ward Bond; and the episode was one of 
the last series made before Bond's death. 

It is by no means an unheralded masterpiece* but for the addict 
it is endearing, bearing as it does all the hallmarks of a Ford family 
picnic. The story is characteristic in its unashamed corniness: a 
drunken doctor who lost his nerve at Shiloh is recalled to himself 
just in time to perform that crucial Caesarian by a flashback anec¬ 
dote from Seth Adams (set in perfect Judge Priest country, even to 
the riverboat at the landing) about General Grant's early troubles. 
But the cast list has a mystique all its own* Not only does it include 
Ward Bond himself, but John Carradine, Anna Lee* Mae Marsh 
(monumentally and intimidatingly silent as Grant's mother)* Jack 
Pennick* Cliff Lyons, Chuck Hayward, Chuck Roberson and 
practically every surviving member of the Ford stock company* 

Moreover, there are several private jokes to be unravelled. 
General Sherman* for instance, a familiar voice and a silhouette 
glimpsed in the darkness for about thirty seconds* The credits' 
attribution of the part to “Michael Morris" seems cryptic; until* 
that is* one remembers what names John Wayne was born and 
christened with. And then there is that precipitous descent to the 
river, which must he stock from some Ford film* but which? 
Wagomna.^ter, surely^—and supposition becomes certainly when we 
catch Ward Bond as Elder Wiggs standing in momentarily for 
Ward Bond as Major Adams. 

Production in Britain 

LINDSAY ANDERSON: This Sporting Life, the story of a Rugby League 
professional* from the novel by David Storey; Karel Reisz produces 
for Independent Artists. No casting announced as yet* Rank release, 
SIDNEY gilliat: Kingslcy Amis's That Uncertain Feeling, with 
Peter Sellers, Mai Zetterling and Virginia Masked; a Launder and 
Gilliat production for British Lion* To be followed later in the year 
by ROY baker's production of Amis's latest novel, Take a Girl Like 
You^ for Rank. 

DAVID lean : after more than a year of preparations, script changes 
and rumours of ambitious casting (Brando, Olivier, Jack Hawkins, 
etc.), Sam Spiegers production of Lawrence of Arabia is at last under 
way, with Peter O’Toole set definitely as Lawrence, and a screenplay 
by Robert Bolt from a treatment by Michael Wilson. Horizon 
British, for Columbia. 

PETER USTINOV: producing, directing, writing and starring in Herman 
Melville'S classic sea story Biliy Budd. Lighting cameraman is Bob 
Krasker, who recently completed work on £/ Cid; locations in 
Alicante. An Anglo-Allied Production in CinemaScope for Warner- 
Pathd. 


Peter Glefivr/le with Una Merkel, who phys in his screen version of 
Tennessee W///f<jms'^ “Summer and Smoke"* 


122 








The dancing image. 

Left: Fred Attaire in 
"Si/k Stockiftfj'', Be/ow * 
Maurice Chevalier in 
"tove Me TonighC\ 


PAINTING 


R ouben mamouuan —a big, patrician figure—looks a 
good ten years younger than 62, which he is* He chain¬ 
smokes cigars less with the air of a Hollywood success 
than of the son of a prosperous late nineteenth century 
Armenian family, which he is also. He was born in 1898, not in 
Armenia, but in Tiflts, in Georgia. His barely perceptible accent 
“deepish r’s and distinctive vowels—sounds Russian though* 
Both parents are still alive and well in Hollywood. His father 
was a banker, formerly a Colonel in the Russian army. His 
mother came from too good a family to indulge her passion 
for the theatre, except as President of the Tiflis Dramatic 
Society, 

The Mamoulian children were raised in an artistic and 
theatrical atmosphere. Tiflis then as now was the cultural 

123 






ROUBEN MAMOULIAN 

INTERVIEWED BY DAVID ROBINSON 


THE 

LEAVES 

BLACK 




















centre of Southern Russia; and the Mamoulian home was a 
meeting place both for the resident intelligentsia and for the 
artists who visited the local theatres and whose performances 
Rouben and his sister generally saw. He recalls the great 
Kachalov reciting a scene from Julius Caesar at a party in the 
living room at home. “It was the greatest dramatic scene I ever 
saw/^ 

When Rouben was seven the family went to Paris, where he 
was sent to the Lyci^e Montaigne* There* too, Madame 
Mamoulian organised charity performances in aid of the San 
Francisco Earthquake victims; and the letter of thanks she 
received from Theodore Roosevelt sparked Reuben’s first 
curiosity about America. When he was I2| they moved back 
to Tiflis, and a few years later he was sent to Moscow Univer¬ 
sity to read criminal law. An announcement on a University 
notice-board invited young people to join Vakhtangov's 
Studio at the Moscow Art Theatre; and young Mamoulian, 
having passed some sort of entrance test, spent several 
memorable months there. He remembers seeing Stanislavsky: 
“A marvellous man with lucid blue eyes/’ 

Back in Tifiis* about 1918, Mamoulian organised his own 
studio, which periodically presented short plays, and wrote 
theatre notices for the local paper for a season. (“It was 
unbearable/’) Meanwhile his sister had married an English¬ 
man; and on New Year’s Eve, 1920, Rouben arrived in London 
to spend a holiday with her. He liked it and decided to stay- 
He needed work, “but was quite unfit for business.” Happily* 
he ran into a fellow-expatriate who was looking for a pro¬ 
ducer for a new Russian repertory company. Mamoulian 
confidently recommended himself, and accepted the salary of 
thirty shillings a week and ten shillings during rehearsals, 
which took place in the old Russian Embassy in Beigrave 
Square. 

As a result of the work he did with this company, he was 
invited by Austin Page and Vladimir Rosing to co-direct a play 
with a Russian setting. The Beating on the Door. He resigned 
after three days because he did not agree with the interpreta¬ 
tion of his co-director, a man much his senior in years and 
experience. After five more days the backers saw his point, and 
he was brought back to replace the older man. This incident* 
added to Mamoulian’s youth (“I was instructed to tell people 
I was ‘about thirty’ ”) and poor English (“It was the last of my 
eight languages”), did not endear him to the cast, which 
included Arthur Wontner* Doris Lloyd, Mary Jerrold and 
Franklin DyalL “The first three days of rehearsal were the 



worst of my life. They were terribly polite, but their very 
politeness was like a dagger.” Still, he survived, won them 
over, and enjoyed a great personal success with the first night 
at the St. Jameses in November 1922. “The style of this produc¬ 
tion was the realism of the Moscow Art Theatre. Since then 

1 have never done anything realistic. It gave me no satisfaction 
at all. It seems to me a completely wrong direction to take in 
the arts.” 

Now he received competing offers from Jacques Hebertot in 
Paris, who wanted him as producer at the Theiitre des Champs- 
Elysees alongside Komisarjevsky and Jouvet; and from George 
Eastman, who wanted him for his splendid new theatre in 
Rochester, where he hoped to organise an American opera 
company. In the face of “four or five days of socratic dialogue” 
with Hebertot and a 300-word telegram from Eastman, he 
settled for America, because “As a boy at school in Paris Td 
adored Les Aventifres de Bujfjfdlo Bill; I remembered my 
mother’s letter from Teddy Roosevelt; and anyway. I’d never 
seen such a long telegram.” 

Mamoulian found little Mr. Eastman eccentric but fascina¬ 
ting. Outside his Kodak empire his only interests were music 
and dentistry. He employed an organist to play to him at 
breakfast; and a quartet for his Thursday and Sunday soirees, 
which could get very boring after years of regular attendance. 
Under Eastman’s ice-grey and perceptive eyes* Mamoulian 
produced Carmen^ Faust, Boris Godunov, as well as Gilbert 
and Sullivan and Viennese operettas. 

“Eastman, of course, was only interested in the musical 
aspects. I was already seeking a truly dramatic theatre, a 
theatre that would combine all the elements of movement 
dancing, acting, music, singing, ddeor* lighting, colour and so 
on. Sister Beatrice, which I produced at Rochester, was the 
most interesting thing I have ever done, I think— the climax 
of this kind of theatre. It was based on Maeterlinck’s play; the 
music—all for organ—was written by Otto Tuning, and Martha 
Graham came to Rochester to arrange the dances.” 

After two and a half years Mamoulian felt it time to leave 
Rochester, and went to New York* where the Theatre Guild 
engaged him as a teacher and director, it was for the Guild 
that he directed Forgy. 

^'^Porgy made me overnight. In it I tried all my ideas of a 
dramatic integration of many elements ... At this time I felt 
it should be possible, in a stage production, to take a snapshot 
of the stage picture at any moment, and record an artistic 
composition. So each movement and grouping was minutely 
rehearsed. The negro actors were often required to adopt poses 
which were neither comfortable nor natural, but which looked 
right on the stage. That’s stage truth. 

“Then there was a scene I put in which was not written in 
Hayward’s play—the famous Symphony of Noises. The cur¬ 
tain rose on Catfish Row in the early morning. All silent. Then 
you hear the Bourn! of a street gang repairing the road. That 
is the first beat; then beat 2 is silent; beat 3 is a snore— zzzl — 
from a negro who’s asleep; beat 4 silent again. Then a woman 
starts sweeping the steps—whish!—and she takes up beats 

2 and 4, so you have: 

Bourn! “ Whish! -zzzzi - Whish! 
and so on. A knife-sharpener* a shoemaker, a woman beating 
rugs and so on, all join in. Then the rhythm changes: 4:4 to 
2:4; then to 6:8; and syncopated and Charleston rhythms. It 
ail had to be conducted like an orchestra.” 

Porgy ran for 2i years on Broadway and was eventually 
transferred to London. In the meantime Mamoulian did a 
number of other productions for the Theatre Guild and for 
independent impresarios, including O’NeilFs Marco Millions 
(1928),Nicho) and Browne’s IVings Over Europe,Capek's RUR 
(1929), Rolland’s The Game of Love and Death and his own 
adaptation of A Month in the Country (1930), with Alla 


Guy Kibbce and Sylvia Sidney (centre) in "*City Streets*', tfte gongster 
picture which was Mamoufian’s first Hoitywood film. 


124 



Nazimova. In 1931 he directed Schoenberg’s opera The Hand 
of Fate at the Met—tough assignment, but an interesting 
problem to integrate the acting of people with this music 
which at first seemed so formless.’'" 

Applause (1929) and City Streets (1930) 

‘'FOR FIVE WEEKS I WENT around the Astoria Studios in New 
York, where I made Applause for Paramount, watching every¬ 
thing and asking questions. At the end of that time I went to 
them and said, ‘I’m ready/ If you have an eye it doesn't take 
you long * , * 

“Now in those early days of sound, people just thought of 
films as being all dialogue—talk, talk, talk. I wanted to do 
things you couldn't do on the stage. I wanted to use a mobile 
camera; but that was impossibie because the camera and the 
cameraman and the director and the assistant cameraman and 
probably the assistant directors were all squashed together in 
a sort of house on wheels. And all the sound was recorded on 
a single track—the mike picked up everything you didn’t want 
it to. If you had a letter in a scene, it had to be soaked in 
water. Like that it didn't make a thunderous crackle, of course, 
but it looked like a Daii watch. 

“The blow-up came on the third day* 1 wanted to shoot a 
scene entirely in one shot* It’s where the girl—who's come to 
New York from a convent as a strip-teaser^—is lying in bed in 
a cheap little hotel room* Her mother, played by Helen 
Morgan, sits beside her and sings to her the only kind of song 
she knows: a burlesque number, but she sings it as if it were 
a lullaby* As she sings the girl fingers a rosary and whispers 
a prayer* But, they said, we couldn’t record the two things— 
the song and the prayer—on one mike and one channel. So 
I said to the sound man, ‘Why not use two mikes and two 
channels and combine the two tracks in printing?' Of course 
it’s general practice now; but the sound man and George 
Folsey, the cameraman, said it was impossible. So I was mad. 
I threw down my megaphone (all directors still used mega¬ 
phones in those days) and ran up to Mr* Zukor’s office. He 
was with Mr. Lasky and Monia Bell when 1 barged in: ‘Look/ 
I said, ‘Nobody does what I ask , , 

“So Zukor came down and told them to do it my way ; and 
by 5.30 we had two takes in the can* Next day I went to the 
studio very nervous. But as I went in, the big Irish doorman, 
who'd always ignored me before, raised his hat and bowed. It 
seemed they’d had a secret 7.30 viewing of the rushes in the 
studio, and were so pleased with the result that they’d sent it 
straight off to a Paramount Sales Conference* After this, what 
Mamoulian said, went. ‘Well,’ said George Folsey, very 
cheerful, when I went in, ‘Where would you like your cameras 
today?’ ‘Today,’ I said, ‘I’ll have four cameras, and I want one 
shooting up from the floor.' This meant they had to send out 
for men with pneumatic drills because the studio floor was 
concrete, two feet thick. I watted till they brought the men in: 
then said ‘0*K* That’s enough. I’ve had my revenge.’ ” 

His first film in Hollywood was City Streets, also for 
Paramount* 

“Shakespeare used the soliloquy to give oral expression to 
thoughts. Since then the soliloquy had become obsolete. But 
it was a wonderful device: so 1 wanted to use a close-up of 
Sylvia Sidney, alone, in prison, and superimpose over it all 
her impressions and recollecttons* Again, everybody insisted 
it was impossible and that the audience would never under¬ 
stand what was going on. 1 argued that in the silent cinema 
they had used—and the audience had accepted—stylisation, 
simile, visual poetry. So why not in sound? That’s what 1 
wanted to do with sound and, later, with colour. Now, of 
course, this use of audible thoughts over a silent close-up has 
become a convention . * . 


"You know, there are ten killings in this film, and you don’t 
actually see one of them ... 

“In those days the average working day was 16 hours. I 
remember doing a scene at midnight with Cooper and Sidney; 
and they feu asleep during the 

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932) 

“t WANTED TO MAKE THE transformations a real vicarious 
experience, more than just a trick* So I used the camera in the 
first person. The entire opening reel is shot as if through the 
eyes of Jekyll, played by Fredric March* The audience docs 
not see him—they are him—until he looks into a mirror. 

“To accompany the transformations I wanted a completely 
unrealistic sound. First I tried rhythmic beats, like a heart¬ 
beat* We tried every sort of drum, but they all sounded like 
drums* Then I recorded my own heart beating, and it was 
perfect, marvellous. Then we recorded a gong, took off the 
actual impact noise, and reversed the reverberations. Finally 
we painted on the sound track; and I think that was the first 
time anyone had used synthetic sound like that, working from 
light to sound. We’ve never divulged—and I’m not going to 
tell you now—how we managed the transformations without 
any cuts or dissolves.” 

Love Me Tonight (1932) 

LOVE ME TONIGHT Starred Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette 
MacDonald, and had music by Rodgers and lyrics by Hart. It 
has been compared to Clair and Lubitsch, regarded as a 
model musical by such practitioners as Kelly, Minnelli and 
Weill, and is clearly one of Mamoulian’s favourites. 

“By now I could use visual and aural images as I pleased. 
For instance when MacDonald’s awful aunts open their 
mouths, you hear the yapping of little dogs instead of their 
voices* Then there’s a moment where MacDonald is fearfully 
embarrassed and drops a vase; and there I have the sound of 
dynamite exploding, because that, emotionally, is the size of it. 
But they were very shocked in the studio!” 

Garbo and Queen Christina (1933) 

“GARBO IS A WONDERFUL INSTRUMENT, which must bc treated 
right. She is an intuitive artist with very good and correct 
instincts . , . I’d heard that she was very difficult, and would 



Tea Of? the "/efc/// ond Hyde*' sec. ftouhe/i Mampuh'on with his two 
stars^ Ffedric March and Miriam Hopkms. 


125 



insist that everyone except the cameraman—including the 
director—must leave the set when she was playing an intimate 
scene. 1 couldn’t have that, of course; and she said "No, 1 won*t 
do that to you.’ 

*'We started the first day’s work, and 1 said, "Well, let’s 
rehearse/ 'Oh no,’ she said, ‘1 never rehearse, I can’t. You tell 
me what I do and where I go* Then take it. The first take is 
always the best/ Eventually I persuaded her to try one shot both 
ways: ‘And you must promise to do it my way if yours doesn’t 
work/So we did one take her way, then began to rehearse. As 
we rehearsed, she said, ‘You know, you’re getting less and less.’ 
‘Jf only you knew,’ [ said, ‘Em getting more and more/ When 
we’d done both takes, she came up to me and whispered, 
‘Please do not print the first one/ So after that we always 
rehearsed. 

“The scene in the inn bedroom, where she walks all round 
the room, touching everything, caressing everything, storing 
the whole place in her memory—to my mind it’s a sonnet. It 
was done to a metronome, I explained to her: ‘This has to be 
sheer poetry and feeling. The movement must be like a dance. 
Treat it the way you would do it to music’ * , , I always divide 
people into those who are crazy about this scene and those 
who ask what the heck’s it all about anyway? 

“There’s an example of how logic is not always artistic 
truth. In the last scene, she is standing on the prow of a sailing 
ship moving forward; yet her hair is blowing backwards. 
People often point out—quite correctly—that the wind must 
be behind, so that her hair should, logically, blow forwards. 
But if I’d shown it like that, even though it would be correct 
according to natural laws, it would not give the same sense of 
motion forward. 

“That last scene presented a lot of difficulties. L, B* Mayer 
called me and said we must change the end of the script: it was 
too unhappy and depressing. We must keep John Gilbert 
alive. Well, we couldn’t do that, of course; but it was true that 
we had in some way to make the ending uplifting, exhilarating, 
1 had the idea of moving in to a big close-up of Garbo standing 



' 1 






■ m 




on the prow; but at the lime that presented difficulties. Bill 
Daniels, the cameraman, said it was impossible because as you 
changed the lens the diffusion changed. Then I remembered 
the magic lantern I’d had as a child in Tiflis, with four pictures 
on a single slide. So I suggested that they had four graded 
diffusers in one slide, mounted in a carriage in front of the 
lens. They went straight off and made it and brought it back 
the same afternoon. It worked perfectly. Now, of course, it's 
standard practice, 

“Garbo asked me: ‘What do I play in this scene?’ Remember 
she is standing there for 150 feet of film—90 feet of them in 
close-up. I said: ‘Have you heard of tabula rasa^, 1 want your 
face to be a blank sheet of paper. 1 want the writing to be done 
by every member of the audience. Fd like it if you could avoid 
even blinking your eyes, so that you’re nothing but a beautiful 
mask.’ So in fact there is nothing on her face: but everyone 
who has seen the film will tell you what she is thinking and 
feeling. And always it’s something different. Each one writes 
his own ending to the film; and it’s interesting that this is the 
scene everyone remembers most clearly , . /’ 


Becky Sharp (1935) 

FOR WE LIVE AGAIN (1934), an adaptation of Tolstoy’s Resur^ 
rection^ with Fredric March and Anna Sten, Mamoulian 
brought the stage designer Serge Sudekin to Hollywood, while 
on Becky Sharp he had Robert Edmond Jones. This was the 
first film in the new Technicolor three-colour process. It was 
to have been directed by Lowell Sherman, but he died after 
two weeks’ shooting and Mamoulian took over. An extra¬ 
ordinarily appreciative adaptation of Thackeray, and one of 
the most beautiful colour films ever made, it probably contains 
Mamoulian’s best work in the cinema. 

“As soon as you use an element on the screen it becomes 
subject to dramatic laws. This is as true of colour as of every¬ 
thing else. So I wanted to shoot everything from the start. I 
took four or five weeks to prepare my plans. My idea was to 
build up the colour dramatically. I wanted to start with black, 
white, grey; then ooze into colour. And 1 wanted the dramatic 
climax of the film to coincide with the colour climax, which 
would be predominantly red, because that is the nature of red, 
(It’s strange, you know, that this should be so—that red 
should be the most exciting colour to the eye—because 
scientifically and physically speaking it is the most sluggish 
colour of all—36,000 vibrations as against 76,000 with yellow. 
It has almost no light value—the nearest approach to black,. 
Scientifically it is the least aggressive; psychologically it is the 
most aggressive. It’s an odd phenomenon; the brightest colour 
is really yellow. But colour’s my hobby-horse . , .) 

“In planning Becky Sharp 1 faced an interesting dilemma. 
The climax is the ball before Waterloo. A messenger arrives 
and quietly informs Wellington that the French army is 
forming. The news is passed around the room and the guests 
gradually begin to leave. Now, logically, the first to leave 
should be the military; but that would mean that all the red 
would be drained out before the other colours—the colours of 
the civilians’ costumes. Colour is such a strong emotional 
medium, of such subconscious potency, that if the gradation 
were wrong here it could destroy the fundamental reality of the 
scene. It sounds practically insane; but what I did was to sort 
the extras into colour groups. Then, one by one, each colour 
group left the ballroom, till only the red were left. Hence the 
officers were the last to go instead of the first. On the set it 
looked absurd, but that’s the way I shot and cut it. And no one 
has ever remarked on it; because it makes such sense dramatic¬ 
ally.” 


Garbo and Stone in "Qyeen Cliristmo“, 



Blood and Sand (1941) 

FOLLOWING BECKY SHARP he made The Gay Desperado ( 1 936), 
a musical satire about Mexican banditti; High PVide and 
Handsome (1937), a pioneering drama, and a screen version of 
Odets’ Golden Boy (1938). In 1940 and 1941 followed two 
pictures with Tyrone Power* The Mark of Zorro was an un¬ 
distinguished swashbuckler, but in Blood ami Sand Mamoulian 
continued his experiments with colour; 

^‘Colour cinematography tends to brighten and cheapen 
natural colour. The problem was to counteract that. I realised 
that colour in films is nearer to painting than to the stage. Now 
if you look, for instance, at a crimson cloak painted by El 
Greco, youTI find that what first appears as a mass of colour 
is in fact a subtle blending of all sorts of shades, with patches 
of pink and blue and purple and green. So I treated the colour 
the way a painter would. I devised what came to be known as 
the Mamoulian Palette. Beside me on the set I had a huge box 
of scraps of material—scarves and handkerchiefs and so on, in 
all colours—so that if a costume or a set needed a bit more of 
a particular colour—a colour accent, as it were—I could put it 
in myself. And I had a collection of spray guns beside me, so 
that I could spray colour on a costume or set or even an actor. 
The art director had made me a beautiful chapel; and he was 
very upset when 1 sprayed everything with green and grey 
paint. Then again, there’s a banquet, which was done entirely 
in black and white* There were flow'ers on the table and 
(naturally) the leaves were green* I think when they saw me 
painting them black they went and told Mr. Zanuck I’d gone 
out of my mind , , /’ 

After Rings on her Fingers (1942), a conventional comedy 
which he made to work out his contract with Fox, Mamou- 
lian’s activity in the cinema was limited for some years* This 
was his great period in the theatre. Oklahoma (1943) was the 
culmination of his ideal of the stage musical. Sadie Thompson^ 
which he adapted with Howard Dieiz^ was a comparative fiop; 
but was followed in 1945 by CaromeU which repeated the 
success of Oklahoma. Many connoisseurs regard Si. Louis 
Woman (1946) as the greatest aU-coloured musical. 

Summer Holiday (1948) and 

Silk Stockings (1957) 


Fourth of Ju/y picnic in "Sommer Hofiday*\ Mamoulian'$ nostalgic 
musicat based on 0'Nei//'s ^*Ah, Wildernessr* 

Charisse—and I wanted to use dancing to show the progress 
of their love story* Fd begun to use dancing like this, as a 
means of interpreting character, as early as Love Me Tonight, 
of course^ which is really the same recipe as Oklahoma and 
way ahead of its time* 

have a sort of trade mark: somewhere in every one of my 
films there is a cat. When we’d finished Silk Stockings I 
suddenly realised there was no cat* So (at great expense) we 
had an extra day’s shooting, just for the cat* Did you notice 
it?” 

Cleopatra 



MAMOULIAN RETURNED TO the cinema in 1948, with Summer 
Holiday^ based on O’Neill's Ah., Wilderness! and praised by 
Sequence as “an enjoyable film * . * The designs are light and 
elegant and the colour attractive,” although “its two styles, 
experimental and nostalgic . . . don’t always mix.” It marked 
the transition to the cinema of Mamoulian’s ideas of a musical 
theatre; and—appearing in the same year as The Firaie—xt 
was a significant forerunner of the On the Town school. 

“O’Neill—who was then already very sick with Parkinson’s 
disease—was very excited by my ideas for adapting his play. 
The sort of thing I did: there’s a scene between Mickey Rooney 
and the local bad girl (Marilyn Maxwell, who played it 
beautifully) in which she grows redder and larger with every 
close-up. Then there's a series of scenes in the styles of famous 
American painters—Grant Wood, Thomas Benton, John 
Curry. From them I learned what marvellous things you can 
do just by using different shades of the same colour * . . One 
of the pictures was Grant Wood's 'Daughters of the American 
Revolution,' We saw lots of elderly ladies for this^ and finally 
I picked out three who might well have been the original 
sitters—quintessentially American. I spoke to one of them, but 
she said, 'Pardonnez-moi, Monsieur Mamoulian, mais je ne 
parle point americain.’ ” 

Nine years, and more productions in the theatre, separated 
this film from Silk Stockings, a Cole Porter musical adapta¬ 
tion of Ninoichka, 

“Jn this film I was most interested in dance as a dramatic 
expression. 1 had two marvellous dancers—Astaire and 


MAMOULIAN IS STILL full of energy, enthusiasm, ideas—for an 
opera film in Italy, a ballet film in Russia, co-productions and 
so on. His most recent project, Cleopatra,^ was one of his rare 
abortive ventures: 

“I was engaged on Cleopatra in all for one year and three 
months ... 1 resigned, shall I say, because I felt in the then 
circumstances 1 could not entirely realise the film 1 had 
conceived . . . There were many changes of plan; first we were 
to shoot in Egypt; then in Spain; then in England. I would 
have liked to shoot it all in Egypt, of course* In the end 1 did 
shoot a few night scenes in England. It was a real English 
winter; and the great white columns of that beautiful set were 
wreathed in light mists; while every time anyone spoke, there 
were clouds of steam from his mouth. It had a marvellous 
quality, quite beautiful, but not exactly Alexandria! 

“I didn’t see it at all as spectacle—which has no interest for 
me for its own sake: way back 1 was offered Quo Vadis. What 
interested me in this was the character of Cleopatra. Td only 
have used spectacle where it was a necessary background. 
Visually, of course, it would have been fascinating. Egyptian 
design of that period had a wonderful simplicity and elegance, 
and such interesting colour: black, yellow, green, purple- 
very little red or orange. Alexandria was a white city, because 
it was a Greek city. Imagine the contrast, and the mutual 
impact, of the highly civilised Egypt and the rude democracy 
of Rome ... I think Cleopatra could have been fine art and 
fine entertainment. It’s possible, you know—not a contradic¬ 
tion* Indeed, I think it’s an ideal , . *” 


127 




DEATH 


Pine wood* s Alexandria stood through most of last winter and 

spring, through Elizabeth Taylor’s illness, the lengthy 

arguments over the Cleopatra insurance, the substitution of 

Rouben Mamoulian as director by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, and the 

calling in of Lawrence Durrell to write a new script. Now 

the whole Cleopatra projea has removed itself to sunnier 

locations, the stone lions and temples and obelisks have been 

pulled down, and the twelve minutes or so of film actually 

shot by Mamoulian—whose final cost, one newspaper cruelly estimated, 

must have been in the region of a thousand pounds a foot— 

is all that survives. These photographs, taken shortly before 

the demolition of the set, record its sad splendours. The **Royal 

Calendar” below was put up by the unit outside Elizabeth Taylor*s 

dressing-rooms and will be set up again in California, or Italy, 

or wherever Alexandria is finally reconstruaedp 

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"The Twrbu/ent Teors^', 


CAITNES 


1961 


T he policy of Cannes is not lo choose its own entries but 
to aa:ept whatever is submitted by each country. When 
a national selection committee’s disregard for an inter¬ 
esting work seems blatant, then occasionally that film is 
^'specially invited.” Obviously the system is not a sure guaran¬ 
tee of the best. Nevertheless Cannes has generally held up a 
mirror to the annual stale of world cinema; and if it has also 
done so this year, then 1961 promises to be mainly pale and 
without pretensions. 

Exodus, which opened the Festival, could not but cast its 
pall and was a grave miscalculation. Why Exodus^ when Rene 
Clement’s Che Gioia Vivere, though calling for a sharper 
sense of parody^ would still have struck a most stimulating 
note of stylish fun? Mr. Preminger’s press conference is 
worth recording, however, if only for its tactical nerve. The 
journalists arrived prepared to extract their pound of flesh; 
but after an amiable preamble, in which he confessed to 
speaking no known language with any proficiency, Mr. 
Preminger embarked on an endless recital of dates and theatres 
at which his film would be shown, including Lima, Peru. He 
then proceeded to a detailed account of his next four projects, 
including the synopses of two which had not yet been scripted. 
As a final master-stroke, he announced to journalists whose 
pens had long since slipped from their fingers that he was 
prepared to talk about anything except the artistic merit of 
Exodus, which was, after all, their concern and not his. Well, 
at least we knew when we could catch up with Exodus in Lima. 

One turned to the Japanese for balm; to Kon Ichikawa’s 
Her Brother. Ichikawa’s preoccupations begin to come clear. 
People under peculiar stresses fascinate him: obsessive guilt 


and the inroads of conscience in The Burmese Harp and 
Conffagration; the situation of the old man in Kagi whose 
failing sexuality drives him to devising extravagant erotic 
projects for his wife and her lover as a stimulus to his dying 
libido. Now in Her Brother there is a lonely, wayward boy 
whose only strong emotional bond is with his sister. Their 
parents are a selfish mother, absorbed in the practice of her 
Catholic religion, and a shadowy father who writes, and 
seems to have withdrawn completely from his family. This 
is an intimate study calling, one would have thought, for the 
small screen. In fact, it is flawlessly composed for the wide 
screen and shot in ravishingly muted colours intended to 
evoke the mid-Taisho period (about 1920) in which the story 
is set. I learned from Kinugasa at a press conference next day 
that in Japan it is almost always the company which imposes 
the shape of the screen according to its own vested interests 
and not according to the subject. 

Hopes start to rise, for Ichikawa's film, though holding one 
at a detached distance, is always fascinating. It is followed 
by Jerzy Kawalerowicz’s Mother Joan of the Angels^ which 
adapts (very freely) the I>evils of Loudun story to seventeenth 
century Poland. A devout priest is summoned to a nunnery 
where the sisters are given over to unseemly cavorlings and 
the Mother Superior is herself a prey to no less than nine 
devils. He undertakes the long and tortured battle for her 
soul and falls himself a wracked victim to love. The gratuitous 
murder of two innocent peasants ensures his own damnation— 
and by sacrifice, he hopes, her salvation—making a climax 
more picturesque than dramatically potent. Much of the film, 
though, is powerfully conceived. Scenes of exorcism in the 
chapel move from hypocritical serenity to a frenzy of obscene 
defilement; a charged atmosphere of frustration and pseudo- 
sanctity is evoked, stunningly recorded in sharpest black and 
white. Finally the film fails to sustain an inexorable drive, and 
a key scene of dialectic (between the priest and a casuistical 
rabbi, both played by Mieezyslaw Voit) leaves one questioning 
its philosophical weight. Nevertheless, a film of stature. 

Dovzhenko’s widow, Yulia Solntzeva, is charming and 
communicative: difficult to reconcile her with The Turbulent 
Years, the war fresco prepared by Dovzhenko and now 
executed by her. It is certainly immense: bullets zip across 


no 





the vast screen; fire tears in sheets and the land rocks. Through 
it all the hero’s zeal burns ever brighter. There are, too, 
images of the peaceful land whose harmony floods the soul. 
But the acting, the relationships and the film’s total gesture 
are of such over-simplification as often to verge on the 
ludicrous. One must add that the work has been extensively 
cut (rumour says by a quarter) and it is impossible to assess 
its original conception; as it stands, it frequently appears 
incoherent. 

Days pa^ and a slump sets in. Sjdberg directs heavily a 
flaccid stage adaptation called The Judge. Fabry’s Duvad is a 
lumbering melodrama of passion and peasants. A daring still 
from the Norwegian entry. The Passionate Demons^ lures 
the audience into the cinema, but they are out again before 
the film gets to the scene they came to see. There is minor 
uplift in Yugoslavia’s The Fourteenth Day, concerned with 
episodes in the lives of a group of convicts on a fortnight’s 
leave, accorded by Yugoslavia’s new penal laws as a stimulus 
to social reorientation. This is unpretentious, and sincerely 
directed by Zdravko Velimirovic, But the Festival seems 
uncommitted, not to say unhinged. A leading member of 
the Japanese delegation, at a lavish self-service spread on the 
plage^ helps herself generously to a puce mound of underdone 
beef and cherries. ‘*So many naughty people in Argentina,” 
sighs Beatriz Guido, lost in a private world. 

A migration starts for the Rue d’Antibes, whose out-of- 
festival presentations assume each year an increasing impor¬ 
tance. Unfortunately the Rue d’Antibes was denied the film 
which would have set the seal on its enterprise: Resnais’ 
VAmee Dernlere a Marimhad^ rejected by the Festival 
selection committee as was Les Mauvais Coups^ Frangois 
Leterrier’s first film starring Simone Signoret. The French 
rumble darkly of victimisation. Finally tout Comes crams 
into an airless cinema for a midnight showing of Les Mauvats 
Coups (which next day’s gossip generally castigates as sub- 
Antonioni and pretentious), while I steal illicitly into the 
Palais to sit in guilty isolation as the projectionists check the 
copy of La Mano en la Trampa, by Leopoldo Torre Nilsson. 

The director and Beatriz Guido here revert to the climate 
of House of the Angel. Once again all is not what it appears 
in the heavily oppressive bourgeois house; and Elsa Daniel 
is again the virginal heroine haunted by a sense of foreboding. 
I wonder how we would have greeted The Hand in the Trap 
if we had never seen House of the AngeH Rapturously, I 
think. Torre Nilsson’s style is more than ever authoritative: 
the Wellesian influence has been absorbed, fully incorporated, 
and the feeling for texture is now his own, recalling but not 
imitating Ophuls. Curtains, windows, trees constantly make 
their subtle contributions. At its worst (there is a middle 
section which tends to mark time), the film still exerts fascina¬ 
tion; at its best it is probably superior to anything he has yet 
done. V believe there is no director today who could match 
him if he decided to make an elegant Gothic horror film. 

Italy’s entries number five, although one, Cacoyannis’ 
The Wastrel, is inexplicably attributed to Cyprus. This 
extravagant number of entries, insinuate the French, is a sop 
to Venice. Be that as it may, the vitality of the Italian 
production is outstanding. 

Cacoyannis’ film is imaginatively shot. I must confess to 
being utterly unaware (as many claimed was glaringly evident) 
that much of the sea action was filmed in the studio tank. 
To me these scenes carried complete conviction, and the 
relationship between Van Heflin and his son (Martin Spell- 
man)j adrift through a long night, is handled generally with 
tact and delicacy. When it is not, the fault lies mainly in the 
script. Ellie Lanibetti, originally ill at ease acting in English, 
grows into her stride and in a minor role still imposes her 
incomparable presence. Certainly the film lacks the appeal of 
Cacoyannis’ Greek themes, but as an “internationar’ subject 
it is distinctive, and finally moving. 


La Ciociara marks De Sica’s return to direction in colla¬ 
boration with Zavattini. But the script (from a Moravia 
novel) is neither a well-organised conventional one nor a 
discursive personal progression sufficiently distinguished to 
disregard the rules. Opening with a perfunctory scene of 
passion between Sophia Loren (a war widow) and Raf 
Vallone, the story takes to the country with the widow bent 
on finding security from the bombs for her young daughter. 
Finally, the girl is raped by the advancing liberators. Moral 
(one supposes): you can never run away from war, and in 
the general chaos friend and foe are likely to prove to be one 
and the same. Sophia Loren’s is an authoritative performance, 
often deft and funny yet still attaining tragic size. It almost 
succeeds in imposing a unity on the film, though not one of 
intellectual purpose. 

Valerio Zurlini is clearly a talent to watch. His La Ragazza 
con la Valigia (a conte of a spiritually lost young woman and 
the boy who protects and helps her, falling sadly and hope¬ 
lessly in love in the process) is less ambitious than his Estate 
Vioknte but more firmly realised. Claudia Cardinale reveals 
a charming talent, and one congratulates Titanus on building 
her up to her present position as the first young actress of the 
Italian cinema without attempting to exploit her as a sexual 
menace. She is also the star of Bolognini’s La Viaeda^ which 
1 was unable to see. 

There were few shorts or documentaries of distinction. 
Britain’s Do-It-Yourself Cartoon Kit was warmly appreciated, 
which was more than could be said for our feature entry. The 
Mark. Pierre-Dominique Gaisseau’s feature documentary 
Le Ciel et la Boue contains some astonishing reportage of 

{Contmued on page 150) 



C/ement's Gioio Wvere": the opening sequence. 



franemco ftoha/ in Builuers “Viridimu". 







i 



I N GENERAL, SATYAJIT RAY^s films embafrass the critics* 
Admirers go impressionistic, talk airily of Human Values, 
and look offended when asked to be more preotse. Detractors 
are no less vague. Some of them call his work charming, in a 
tone which could hardly carry more weight of suspicion and 
distrust, or say they are not interested in the problems of the 
Indian peasantry. Only M, Truffaut, in describing Father 
Panchali as Europeanised and insipid, has firmly placed him¬ 
self in the opposition* This mustn’t have taken him much 
trouble, since he apparently walked out of the film after the 
first two reels* Those who stayed on to the end, however, had 
every reason to be more hesitant; for the supposed simplicity 
of this work—and indeed of all Ray's films—disarms the 
critic* Only after close scrutiny do most of them turn out to be 
artefacts of the most subtle sort It is a case of art concealing 
art, brought about by Ray*s precise construction of plot—so 
that craftsmanship seldom shows—and by his ability while 
shooting to improvise against this structure in a way which 
gives his work a continual spontaneity* 

I have heard some of Ray’s admirers say that analysis of any 
kind can only destroy this spontaneity, and therefore distort 
one of the most important qualities of these films* But to 
believe this surely is to fall into an old trap. The myth of the 
Natural Genius, piping his native wood-notes wild, dies hard 
in certain quarters; and Ray it seems is to be the latest victim 
sacrificed upon its altars. He can only be made to play this 
part, however, if one ignores his robust plots and the density 
of his symbolism. Not that his best work is mannered, as this 
might suggest. His symbolism is not like that of Bergman and 
Pabst (say), who are usually considered symbolist directors. 
All art in a sense is symbolic, and the success of symbolism lies 
in it being unobtrusive. This is not so with Bergman and Pabst, 
who, in trying to conceal the thinness of their material, let 
symbols sprout out of their feeble plots like straw out of a 
scarecrow. They fail because they are unable to construct 
suitable plots, which in turn is a failure properly to explore 
their material* In the best of Ray’s films, on the other hand, 
the integration of symbol and action is so assured that we are 
hardly aware of the technical problems involved in such a feat. 
Yet Ray's continuing success has not been bought cheaply. 
After shooting Father Fanchali he went through a period—at 
about the time he was filming Aparajito and Parash Fathar 
{The Philosophers Stofw) —when he had great difficulty in 
making plots* It is part of his talent's strength that he managed 
to break through this sterile passage into the lucid and rich 
world of Apur Samar, 

What is so interesting about this talent is the limited means 
by which it has reached such richness* Ray's vision so far has 
been a narrow one. In his films there is no portrayal of evil 
(in the Christian sense), nor is there any sign of violence. The 
staple ingredients of the Occidental film—lust, murder and 
rape—play no part in his work. Most of his central characters 
arc sensitive, often idealised people, usually scholars or rich 
men who have been dispossessed and therefore made vulner¬ 
able to poverty and suffering. (The trilogy could as well have 
been called The Unprotected as The Unvanquished.) Though this 
range is highly limited, 1 don’t think it counts against him; for 
within it Ray has managed to deploy the old tragic conflicts 
with remarkable ease* What he has in fact done is to describe 
the relationship between art and life, duty and the emotions, 
free will and destiny, in very i^rsonal terms* And this he has 
brought off, I believe^ by showing us how, in a most vivid way, 
these conflicts tie up to his major, almost obsessive, theme. 

2 

“In what way,” asks Ray, “can man control the world, and 
what is the price he must pay for trying to do so . . This, 
as I would see it, is the Promethean theme behind all his films* 
Why it should be this one rather than any other is a debatable 
point; but I would surmise that Ray is haunted in this case by 
the most traumatic event in recent Indian history; the granting 


of Independence in 1947. With this event India was born into 
respomibility* Besides her foreign problems she had to handle 
the problem of industrialisation; of modernising the agri¬ 
cultural techniques of backward settlements; and of coping 
with the underfed and the under-privileged. Though the scope 
of such a task may have been invigorating, there was always a 
heavy price to be paid. Independence brought with it the most 
terrible of border massacres, and mechanisation involved the 
destruction of ancient pieties. Inevitably, the India of Science 
was against the India of Myths* 

Though Ray is clearly troubled by this situation, and is 
indeed involved in it, his feelings remain ambivalent; and from 
this ambivalence arises a tension which gives his work its 
force* In Jakaphar^ the protagonist is an ageing nobleman 
who, finding himself out of place in the modern world, tries to 
escape from it into the world of music. He fails* The sound of 
trucks passing to a factory owned by his nouveau riche neigh¬ 
bour echoes through his hollow palace and shatters the 
necessary silence* Unable to continue his traditions into the 
modern world, he destroys himself. Though this nobleman is 
little more than an old panjandrum, he becomes for us an 
oddly moving figure; for he is shown as the last representative 
of a civilisation Ray admires, a civilisation in which the 
mandarin virtues of ceremony and folly are prized and in 
which love of the arts takes a central place. 

Ray’s feelings may be divided about this nobleman^ but they 
aren’t half as complex as are his feelings about the characters 
of the trilogy* Though Ray’s sympathies are primarily with the 
new men (like Apu) as they break away from superstition and 
ignorance, he is at the same time aware of the price they must 
pay for this liberation* The power involved in trying to control 
the world requires ruthlessness. It may also imply an evasion 
of life. So Apu betrays his mother's affection by leaving her to 
die alone in a remote village; and later, as a man of learning, 
begins to lose touch with life—with Mother Earth, as he puts 
it—to his natural detriment, 

3 

One would never call Ray a reactionary—too obviously is 
he one of the new men himself. This doesn’t stop him feeling 
great tenderness for those who have lost out, for those who 
have been unable to control the world, at least in part. Most of 
Father Fanchati, for instance, is taken up with de^ibing the 
hopelessness of such people—a hopelessness which, as Ray 
makes clear, is in no way a matter of despair. He shows us 
that they are fatalists who yet manage to enjoy the world* 
This mood is established from the opening moments of the 
film, as a child ineflectually sweeps a sun-baked courtyard 
while kittens frolic in the shade. This is life lived at its most 
primitive, biological level* Food is the primary pre-occupa¬ 
tion: the mother continually crushes harsh roots; the children 
steal fruit or yearn for sweets they can’t afford; the grand¬ 
mother quietly gobbles in a corner. At no point does the 
family slop eating its scraps of rice, its rotting guavas, or its 
pieces of raw sugar-cane* 

At first these biological processes seem to be the only 
defence against a destructive universe, in which the impending 
jungle creeps through a broken wall, and the monsoon beats 
down the house. Even amongst the villagers there seems to be 
no defence. Neighbours are rapacious, and education at the 
hands of the local grocer seems as futile a preparation for life 
as is primitive medicine a guard against death* (Death with 
Ray, though regular, is always unexpected. Not surprisingly 
he wishes to film A Passage to India.) The world is uncontroll¬ 
able and the family—each in his own way—is its victim. The 
father, a gentle, distracted egoist, dreams about his ancestors' 
greatness but is unable to make a living. His neighbours 
cheat him and he writes plays no one wants. The mother, as 
the inarticulate conscience of the family, is the only one close 
to achieving some control over her life; but her failure is 
evident in her continual scrubbing and scraping, and in the 


Above: Safya/jt Roy. fieiow: tht parents in '’^Pather Poncha/i" 


133 



**Pather pQnchati*^: Apu and hi$ sfstei* move through the wi/deroess of a 
cotton fidd. 


nagging which alienates those about her. Above all there is the 
grandmother, who never despairs though she has the least 
hope. It is not in gloom but with wry joy that she says^ “I am 
old and I have nowhere to go.” Unlike Gorki’s grandmother^ 
who is an earth-goddess embodying (as one of the revolution¬ 
aries says) the best of Old Russia, she is never more than 
irresponsible and childlike. All she can offer is love* 

From the difference between these two women one can 
deduce a significaTil difference between the Gorki and the 
Ray trilogy. Gorki is concerned with the drama of Revolution 
and with showing how his characters, even at second-hand, 
react to this. Ray is not interested primarily in such a drama* 
In developing his characters he is more concerned with under¬ 
standing the world than with changing it—though to under¬ 
stand is to change it. His comment on social progress remains, 
often aggravatingly, ambiguous. The difference between these 
two trilogies is not necessarily antagonistic: it is the difference 
one might say between the zestful Russia of the late Twenties 
and present day neutralist India. 

Anyway, even if they wanted to be, the characters of Paiher 
Panchaii could never be revolutionaries. Unable to control 
their lives in any way, they are never more than childlike. 
Though it may be a brilliant touch to have all the characters 
like children in a film which purports to be about a child, and 
therefore to relate a primitive agricultural society to the 
limitations of this age group, it does induce a certain am¬ 
biguity of vision. Are we or are we not looking at the world 
through the eyes of a child? Ray never makes this clear* But 
he does deal effectively with another problem arising from this 
situation* Though similar, the characters never become mono¬ 
tonous ; for the scenes in which they are involved are always 
epic, and therefore embody the differing strands of the various 
themes. 

There is the pivotal moment, for instance, when Apu sees a 
train for the first time and begins to understand the nature of 
man’s power. (Trains are a recurring motif in the trilogy, and 
this scene takes on a particular force when we realise how iater 
in Calcutta Apu is to try to commit suicide by throwing him¬ 
self beneath one,) Though the sequence is a short one, it does 
—by its build-up—dominate the film. We see Apu and his 
sister move through the wilderness of a cotton field. As they 
listen to the eery humming of telegraph wires, seeds drift from 
white plumes. Then the train chatters past. Its smoke, like a 


feather, obliterates the sky. For us, all quite unimportant 
perhaps: but for Apu a mechanical Messiah has been born. 
Just as typical of Ray’s art is an earlier, more complex 
sequence which in its unstressed interplay of moods reminds us 
of Chekov* It is evening, and the house is in darkness. The 
grandmother tries to thread a needle but is too proud to admit 
failure. Near her the mother fusses alone. The father stops 
trying to write a play and, holding up a moth-eaten bundle of 
manuscript, says gently, 'Things have come to a pretty pass.’’ 
Beside him Apu is learning to write* The father smiles at the 
success of his work. A passing train whistles. "Now,” says the 
father, "write the word for wealth.” 

Through such a mosaic of action Ray establishes his major 
themes. In an uncontrolled world the comic travelling theatre, 
the father’s escapism, and the folklore of the grandmother 
appear incongruous. The mother, in trying to control a dwind¬ 
ling budget, goes out and sells the family silver; and the price 
she pays is to rob Apu of his patrimony and lo destroy the 
lingering remains of a family tradition. This theme of control 
and its cost is, as I have written, the central one of Ray’s work; 
but it does have an almost mystical extension which is 
lo play a large part later in Apur Sansar. It is to be found even 
in such a simple scene as the grandmother rocking the new¬ 
born Apu in his cradle* Though she fears for his future she yet 
looks at him with hope. This mingled regard reveals her 
knowledge and her strength; for the old woman knows that 
ultimately the power of life itself transcends the suffering of 
people caught in an uncontrolled universe* 

In the last resort, the destructive force is negated by the force 
of continuing life. Though the fetid lake may swallow the last 
trace of the sister’s existence, and the jungle obliterate the 
house, it is the images of the passing bands and kickshaws, of 
children running through sunlit glades, and of trains, especi¬ 
ally trains, with their hope of work in Benares and their 
promise of a new and better society, which remain burnt into 
the mind. Aptly does the English for Father Panchaii mean 
On the Roadi for it is above all the activity of life that counts. 
As one of the villagers sagely remarks, "it’s staying in one 
place that makes you mean*” 


4 

And now the growing Apu begins to control the world. 
Premonitions of this in the pivotal scene of Paiher Panchaii^ 
when he first saw the train, arc confirmed by the pivotal 
moment in Aparajito when a shot of the boy triumphantly 
holding a small globe is followed by a shot of his home-made 
sundial. Time and space have begun to be conquered* 

Aparajito is an uncertain film. There is no plot to it, only a 
series of episodes related to each other by the most tenuous of 
connections. Symptomatic of this is the restless shifting of 
location: Benares and the father’s deaths Dejaphur, a village, 
Calcutta, and another village—it is all very fragmentary, and 
Ray tries to obscure this by over-playing the train motif, by 
sensationalist cutting, and by a symbolism which is too 
often of the Bergman and Pabst sort* Even the pathetic fallacy, 
of all things, is dragged in at one moment* As the father dies, 
pigeons scatter over the city. 

The problem in making a sequel to a well-plotted film is that 
of finding another plot for the same characters in which they 
can, without strain, be put to a different use* In Aparajito Apu 
has become the protagonist, but has neither the personality of 
a child nor the character of an adult to sustain the role* The 
kind of adolescent problems which could interest us are beyond 
the range of Ray’s fastidious talent, and the character is 
seen in middle distance. The mother, too, doesn’t fulfil the 
new demands made on her as a central character. In Father 
Panchaii she was never more than a form of conscience, 
nagging away like an aching tooth. There was no need for her 
lo be more than this. Naturally such a character can never 
develop into a major role. The consequence of this is that her 
part in Aparajito becomes an increasing embarrassment to 
Ray, until finally—she is so much at cross-purposes with the 


134 





action—he forces disastrously the pathos of her death. To 
enact this scene expressionistic technique runs riot. The camera 
veers over the avails and lingers on ominous flames. It is all 
very embarrassing. Unfortunately it is not the only confusion 
here: we never learn if we are looking at the world through her 
hallucinatory vision or not; nor is it explained why this sick 
woman, chatelaine of a large house, is allowed to die alone> 

These failures are a matter of more than one film. They 
relate to an overt self-consciousness in Ray himself, which 
manifests itself in the mannered facetiousness of his next film 
(Farash Fathar, 1958/59) and in the obtrusive symbolism of 
JaLsaghar. The latter is a curious piece (imagine Rosmersholm 
rewritten by W. B. Yeats), but through being consistent it does 
work ; and because of this such symbolism as the chandelier, 
representing the Tree of Life, is made plausible. But in 
Aparajfio no such convention is sustained. The film is neither 
realistic nor symbolic; it is merely awkward. There Is a sense 
of hiatus about it which only just manages not to be a sense of 
void. It is saved, in fact, by a number of typical Ray vignettes, 
such as the school inspector who admires Apu's work and 
so bestows on him a benign smile, or the bed-sitter bachelor 
who lends the boy a box of matches and then makes a pass at 
the mother. On the lesser level it is helped by a magnificent 
evocation of Benares with its lively ghats. It would be wrong 
therefore to describe Aparajito as a failure. It manages (just) 
to hold our interest between the earlier masterpiece of Father 
Fanchali and the later, probably finer, masterpiece of Apur 
Sansar, 

S 

At this point, Ray conquered his self-consciousness by 
finding a way in which he could develop the themes of Father 
Fanchali into a new unity. By making Apu give up his study of 
science in order to become a writer, Ray puts him into a 
position which also tells us much about his own preoccupa¬ 
tions with art at that time. Apu's failure as a novelist reflects 
on Ray’s most serious problem: that of transforming the 
dialectic of his themes into a direct sensation of life. ‘‘He 
doesn't make it," says Apu to his friend Pulu, speaking of a 
character in his novel but referring unknowingly to himself. 
“He doesn’t make it, but he doesn’t turn away from life. He 
faces up to reality." Ray wants to do better than this. He 
wants both to face up to reality and to make a work of art that 
conveys such an apprehension. In showing why Apu fails as 




"Aporojfto”; Apu ond his mother in the fbmify's lodgings et Be^Ofes. 


a novelist, and how he comes to terms with life, Ray has 1 
believe succeeded in doing this. 

Apu fails because his art is wilful. In trying to control the 
world he has gone too far, and so cut himself off from the 
sources of life. Ray brings this out vividly. From a shot of 
Pulu inviting Apu to a wedding and telling him in an affec¬ 
tionately mocking tone of the Olde World village where it is 
to take place, Ray cuts immediately to a panning shot of Apu 
walking along an embankment, chanting a poem which 
ironically reflects on his own predicament. “Let me return to thy 
lap, O Earth! .. . Free me from the prison of my mind. . 
This is in fact what has happened to Apu: he is caught in 
the prison of his mind. Inevitably divorced from the industrial 
society around him, Apu is locked away in his garret room 
with his onanistic flute-playing and with his (of all things) 
autobiographical novel. People enter his room as if they had 
come from some foreign land. 

But this deadening sense of control is jolted by his un¬ 
expected marriage—by quite extraordinary circumstances he is 
forced into this, and so initiated into the happiest period of 
his life—^before being finally destroyed by his wife’s death. 
What the universe giveth it taketh away . . . or so at first it 
seems to Apu. Reality becomes incomprehensible to him, un¬ 
controllable in a way he had never envisaged. He thought he 
had achieved some sort of order—in one of his books he kept 
a dead fern leaf—and that he had somehow categorised the 
world. But now, as he moves grief-stricken through a forest, 
he comes across a bunch of ferns growing by a tree and is 
shocked by their mysterious otherness. His novel, he sees, is 
inadequate: he has misunderstood everything. Unable to 
carry on as a creative being, he withdraws from life. It is only 
later, in his first encounter with his five-year-old son, that he 
realises how wrong he has been. The boy, by his very presence, 
acts as a criticism of Apu and makes him aware of how he has 
failed to face up to life. (Life here is understood to relate 
inextricably to a sense of duty and obligation.) It is through 
the boy, in his uniqueness and his unselfconscious vitality, that 
Apu begins to return to sanity. 

It is not difificull to see behind this final scene the kind of 
criticism Ray must have been making of his own past work: 


"Tlie World of Apu"; Apu and Apdr/io return /)ome to Calcutta after 
their wedding. 


135 


how art without life leads to a kind of death, and how the 
artist should neither have a total control over his material nor 
be entirely controlled by it, but must in some way transcend 
this situation. One of the reasons why 1 think Apur Samar is 
the best film of the trilogy is that in it Ray has managed to see 
how this can be done. He has brought it off, I believe, by 
raising his subject to a mythopoeic level without at any point 
destroying its realism. 

As he sails with Pulu down a river to the Olde World village, 
Apu sings: “Where are you taking us, O Fair One?” The 
boatman, thinking he is being referred to, smiles. But this 
humour masks a profound irony, for Apu is unaware that the 
fair river is leading him directly to his yet unknown wife. The 
river in fact is the central symbol, linking together both the 
realistic and the mythopoeic levels of the work* It represents 
both the arbitrariness of nature and the regenerating power of 
water. It is by a river that Apu theatrically decides to marry; 
it is by a river—now shrunken to a stream—that Pulu tries to 
pull him back to life after four years of mourning; and it is by 
a river finally that he and his son are reconciled. 

On a mythopoeic level the film tells of a god’s death and 
resurrection. The point is stressed that Apu is an avatar of 
Krishna, the flute-playing god. Krishna, you will remember, 
was allowed for a brief time to love a milkmaid named Radha; 
and so for a brief time is Apu allowed to love Aparna, his 
wife. But only for a brief time. After Aparna's death Apu 
descends into the underworld, where he is imprisoned with his 
own echo in a landscape of salt. (Though he is like some holy 
man, going with mat and shawl into the wilderness, his 
sacred ness is sick. Ray^—and this is an unexpected belief for an 
Indian—shows little sympathy for those who seek spiritual 
contemplation at the expense of duty,) Apu’s resurrection into 
the world through his son is a clearer^ more enacted statement 
of the theme of regeneration which we found in Parker 
Panehaii (see the grandmother rocking Apu in his cradle). 
Ray’s touch, however, is here more sure; and the two charac¬ 
ters, without losing their definition as human beings, take on 
the firm lines of allegory. The feeling of eternal recurrence in 
this scene—Apu in a symbolical sense returns to the village 
where he was born and confronts his childhood self—gives 
the whole trilogy the cyclic form proper to myth. 

Quite a number of people have criticised the way Ray 
idealises his characters; and certainly to see Apu as an avatar 
of Krishna may be thought presumptuous. Ray reassures us, 
however, through his use of Pulu, Apu’s friend, who laughs at 



Apu for his self-regard and yet admires him to the point of 
idealisation. On this point the myth works for us, because we 
are conditioned by Pulu’s critical approach. Where it does 
falter perhaps is during the wedding scene. As one of the 
guests says that the curse has become a blessing, the music on 
the sound track implies that Ray takes such a magical sugges¬ 
tion seriously. This is never made clear. Again, symbolism is 
forced when Apu throws his novel away and the sheets fall 
gently over the forest. But these are minor points. In general 
the myth works beautifully. It lies together themes, 
illuminates details, and brings an immediate sense of life to 
the machinery of plot, 

6 

This account of Ray’s films has so far neglected his origin¬ 
ality as a director: his ability to apprehend experience in 
cinematic terms. There is his sense of cutting, for instance, 
which has developed from the clumsy opening sequences of 
Parker Fanchali^ where the fibres often appear to be caught in 
the frame, into an unusual, implicatory style. This style falls 
somewhere between Eisenstein’s anti-narrative montage and 
Hollywood’s story-telling techniques. The success of Ray’s 
symbolism, his ability to compress densely, is in part brought 
about by this style (see, for instance, Apu’s attempted suicide, 
or his search for a job). Too often, though, Ray’s diffidence in 
committing himself is helped by this implicatory—and there¬ 
fore illogical—technique. We never learn, for example, if the 
nobleman in Jaisaghar has lost his fortune because of an 
obsessive interest in music, or because he has abandoned 
himself to mourning after the death of his family, 

Ray’s handling of actors is also exceptional. Like De Sica he 
knows how to winkle performances out of children, and how 
to create relationships in a quick though not a glib way 
through the use of the striking glance or the precisely right 
gesture. Unlike De Sica though, whose characters must always 
be up and doing something, he has (and I think this is an unique 
achievement) a sense of the inner poise of his characters, of a 
stillness which is never static. His frequently sustained shots 
of the Jatsagkar nobleman, as he sits meditating, do not bore 
us. 

These accomplishments are technical, and as much the work 
of Ray’s excellent and permanent team of collaborators 
(Mitra, the cameraman, Ravi Shankar, the composer) as of Ray 
himself. What first concerns us is the single-minded way in 
which he has grown as an artist. His achievement, for me 
anyway, has been that he has managed to find a rich connec¬ 
tion between his own personal problems and the problems of 
a society. In coming to terms with his own creative powers, in 
other words, he has found it easier to understand the world 
about him. The duel between life and death, between manic 
control and hopeless abandonment, relates closely—if one can 
use Melanie Klein’s psychological terms—to the artist’s need 
to pass through the depressive (or mourning) phase in order to 
re-create his destroyed inner world. In discovering this in his 
own terms, Ray has temporarily managed to resolve the 
conflicts within himself and the conflicts between his various 
themes. 

Under western eyes Ray’s diffidence—his unnecessary am¬ 
biguities of vision and statement—is often infuriating. Yet in 
the last resort his achievement is so positive that we forget this. 
In his hands the most unusual of occurrences, like the ad hoc 
wedding or the first encounter of a father and his five-year-old 
son, become represeniative of our deepest feeling, of our 
most normative of day to day experiences. This golden 
touch should be more than respected. Indeed, for my own 
part, I believe that what a Bengali doctor onoe said to Yeats 
about Tagore could as well apply to Ray: “He has spoken 
out of life itself, and that is why we give him our love.” 


"T/re World of Apu**: tho final sequence. Afju is leaving, having failed 
to make contact with his son; the chiid, here a tinyt distant figure, 
comes offer h/m. 


136 


WEST COAST 


REPORT ■* 


T here is, unfortunately, no new wave in Hollywood. 
Bob Hughes’ phrase “the old undertow*^ works much 
better as a description of the afternoon and evening 
meshes which Hollywood’s old guard successfully throw over 
even the least radical of the younger newcomers. Thus, films 
continue to look alike, with the same weaknesses, the same 
excesses. Optimism is a burden; conformity an escape from 
the struggle. Imagination is stiil put into mechanics rather 
than story or style. An eery example of this concerns M-G-M’s 
Ben-Hur, still thirsting after new audiences. The quotation is 
from a recent issue of the Los Angeles Mirror. “A free show¬ 
ing of Ben-Hur for the deaf will present an unusual situation 
at the E^tian Theatre on Saturday morning , , . Two 
women will act as interpreters. Stationed on a special platform 
erected at the right of the screen, the women, each taking over 
one half of the performance, will relay the dialogue in sign 
language and mouth the words for lip-readers. They will 
wear long phosphorescent gloves and luminous lip make-up. 
Infra-red spots will black out all but their hands, arms and 
lips , , 

One way in which the European, although apparently not 
the British, independent film-maker has an advantage over 
his Hollywood contemporary is his opportunity to work 
outside a conventional union situation. For it is not so much 
money which a film-maker needs as time. With time his 
imagination can go to work, and he can invent things which 
are not expensive, which permit him to stay within his budget 
but give him the quality he needs in a scene. Irv Kershner, 
whose feature Hoodlum Priest was one of the two official U.S. 
entries at Cannes, has come to the conclusion that he, like so 
many others, is being forced to work under a ridiculous 
pressure. “Do you think that Truffaut, Bresson, or Stevens or 
Zinnemann set out to make a picture in just so many days? 
Of course they don’t. Why should I?” 

We know precisely why—because otherwise he would go 
over budget. (In fact Hoodlum Priest did go over, although 
this does not seem to have been Kershner’s fault.) But 
Kershner, like so many others, is tired of this easy answer of 
budget. It presupposes one way of making films; and, in 
fact, one set type of film. A budget of "x” dollars, with a 
union crew, and average sets and costumes and one or two 
minor stars, can shoot for “y” days. It is all in the books. 

Denis and Terry Sanders, Curtis Harrington, Stanley 
Colbert and the other young “independents” of Hollywood 
can be heard asking each other how many days they had, and 
how much {not whether) they went over budget. On The 
Connection (in New York), Shirley Clarke had a budget of 
SI 67,000, used a union crew and shot in 28 days. In Hollywood 
on Night Tide, his first feature, Curtis Harrington had a 
much smaller budget—“less than 8100,000”—shot for about 
the same amount of time, but kept himself for the most part 


Huf>C; the unit on focation. Photograph by W///fom Chxton. 


independent of the studios and their rules. For iVar Hunt^ 
the Sanders’ second feature, the budget was 8265,000 (includ¬ 
ing one star, John Saxon). This allowed only 15 days 
shooting, plus second unit. 

Where does quality come from in such conditions? When 
time costs 8800 an hour (the Sanders’ figure on War Hunt), 
something has to give. The Sanders, like so many before 
them, knew very well that they would prefer to take a close-up 
in. a scene, to give them more latitude and control in editing, 
but they could not afford it. On Shadows^ John Cassavetes 
was not under the same pressure of time. When he found 
that he could not after all shoot in a night club that had been 
promised him, he was able to take the time needed to im¬ 
provise the effect in an empty room, with two or three lights 
and a handful of people dancing into and out of the darkness. 
But the Sanders had 15 days in which to shoot a hundred 
page script—almost seven minutes of usable film a day, 
much of it requiring considerable searching after character¬ 
isation and very little of it straightforward dialogue. They 
had planned on 18 days, but when their production date had 
to be postponed they picked up two additional costs—a 15 
per cent increase in union wages (applicable after February) 
and a state property tax (applicable only during the month 
of March). The solution: an 18-day schedule was cut to 15. 

Time automatically costs money in Hollywood; and in the 
end is the same as money, because budgets are kept high 
through the necessity to use union technicians, and to accept 



137 






their notions of what constitutes a minimum crew. No one 
gives any sign of wishing to wreck the unions. But there is 
considerable resentment about being budgeted out of the 
film business by their requirements. Thus the unions^ although 
formed for the best of reasons, now run the risk of being 
discredited because of their inflexibility. There is no reason 
why a night exterior without dialogue should need 70 tech¬ 
nicians (the experience recently on one of Daniel Mann’s 
films); there is no reason why a documentary shot in Colonial 
Williamsburg (by George Seaton) should require 65 tech¬ 
nicians, But this happens all the time. 

Some of this has spilled into the trade papers recently, 
provoked by an editorial by Thomas Pryor in the Daily 
Variety, He made the point that less rigid production methods 
have produced interesting and often commercially successful 
films in France. In the midst of the resulting controversy in 
Variety^ a suggestion was made to create a new kind of 
contract between producers and the unions—one which 
would permit technicians to be employed for a token stipend, 
deferring the rest of their salary to be paid out of the film*s 
income. This works already for others—writers, directors, 
producers and occasionally actors. It would permit a tech¬ 
nician to work on a project which interested him without 
fear of a union fine. It would encourage more production, 
and so create additional employment. As an added incentive 
it might be necessary to consider the deferments as a loan 
from the technicians to the producer, such loans to be paid 
off at the going bank-rate, either to the individual technicians 
or to a union pension fund. 

In the meantime all the burden is borne by the inv^tors 
and the films’ producers. And, if an independent film is not 
quickly sold and does not have an immediate success, the 
director/producer may never have a chance to make another; 
or like John Cassavetes (after Shadows) or Irv Kershner 
(most of the time) he must pay penance (and/or debts) with 
a year or so in television. Films requiring a quick sale natur¬ 
ally tend to be made according to some recognisable stereo¬ 
type; and we are back where we started, with look-alike, 
sound-alike “entertainments”. 

Clearly the unions are not to blame for everything. A major 
cause of the Hollywood picture's distance from contemporary 
reality is Hollywood's own distance from the rest of the 
world. Perhaps the American film will some day benefit from 
the tug-of-war between New York and Los Angeles, but at 
the moment we can be aware of little more than the continuing 
disadvantages of their geographical and cultural separation. 
Hollywood’s instincts are still basically theatrical, and there 
is almost none of that experimenting with form and style 
which is so noticeable in the better European directors’ work. 
Yet at the same time Hollywood is cut off from the theatre, 
except by purchase of talent or “property'’, a sort of l^se-lend 



which over the years has benefited neither Broadway nor 
Hollywood. A mutually destructive provincialism has been 
established on both coasts. Even the best of the stage directors 
who come to Hollywood seem to learn little about film- 
making, and begin to forget whal they knew about handling 
actors. The television directors, at one time a source of 
considerable hope, fall back on a sort of camera trickery 
which as often as not conceals their basic lack of story sense. 
Actors become producers and, to an astonishing degree, are 
the least adventurous of all, imitating their former successes 
and unwilling to experiment—even, surprisingly, Marlon 
Brando, who produced a rather old-fashioned, if enjoyable, 
film in One Eyed Jacks. 

Disappointment is at the root of the outspoken criticism of 
Hollywood which we find in the writing of some of the 
younger New York critics. Jonas Mekas, editor and publisher 
of Film Culture and now director of Guns of the Trees^ is 
the author of some of these attacks. In the context of a 
discussion of the “New American Cinema'* (Film Culture 
Number 21, Summer i960), he places himself wholeheartedly 
in the so-called New York school, denigrating almost every¬ 
thing which has recently come out of Hollywood, or is likely 
to come from it. Unfortunately he exaggerates legitimate 
grievances, in a kind of inverse provincialism, and signifi¬ 
cantly over-emphasises the role of “roughness” and “impur¬ 
ity” in contemporary American art. It is simply not true that 
the “entire experimental film movement” is in New York. 
Other work is being done elsewhere—in Los Angeles, San 
Francisco, Denver, Boston, Wichita, Iowa City. It would be 
surprising if this were not so. But these others are often 
working alone. They are not living so close together, nor are 
they as good at publicity as the New York group. And this, 
in the end, makes the difference. 

The New York experimenters have encouraged each other, 
have created a myth of themselves which bore fruit—and 
films. But now, apparently not content with the films, they 
have fallen in love with the myth itself. Having managed to 
make a film “with no budget at all,” they believe profoundly 
that this is the only way to make films. Unfortunately this 
freedom from commitment to Hollywood’s waste and over¬ 
efficiency is thus bound up with a disinterest in financing and 
financial responsibility which suggests and might lead to 
irresponsibility. It would be a simple and unfortunate mistake 
to make. There is so much impatience with the distance a 
film-maker necessarily feels from his subject. He is separated 
from it by stars, by the front office, by the New York financial 
office, by the entire system which seems content (and 
determined) to keep Hollywood on familiar tracks. The film¬ 
maker wants to imitate the painter, the poet, the dancer— 
desires desperately to have their freedom and control. But he 
cannot: his work is too expensive. 

No one satisfactorily solv^ this problem. The French new 
wave has resulted in a large batch of films which can find 
no distributor or exhibitor, presumably because they are too 
bad. In the United States, many independents find no distri* 
butor even when their films are not bad. Morris Engel is his 
own distributor for Weddings and Babies; Shirley Clarke, 
before her Cannes success, was prepared to do the same for 
The Connection; Lionel Rogosin had to lease a cinema to 
secure a New York opening. For all the efforts of the Museum 
of Modern Art Film Library, Cinema 16 and the various 
interested universities, there is a grave need in the United 
States for showcases with the stature of the National Film 
Theatre or the Cinemathfeque, Some such rote may be filled 
in the future by an American Film Institute which is in the 
process of being formed (see the Summer issue of Film 
Quarterly). 

Meanwhile it would be a help if there were a label with 
which we could identify the few individua! and somewhat 


"Too Lote 6/oes"; john Co^so^ete^ Stelh Stevem. 



John Saxon in *‘War Hunt", Photograph by WiUiam Cfaxton. 


personal enterprises which have recently issued from the 
West Coast. But there is no label; there is no Hollywood 
school or group among the independents. Among the more 
interesting of the younger men—Cassavetes, the Sanders, 
Kershner, Harrington—there is very little fraternisation. But 
they have one thing in common: a preference for working 
in HoUywood. 

John Cassavetes 

THE LEAST LIKELY TO choose Hollywood, onc might have 
thought, is Cassavetes. His remarkable first feature Shadows 
owed nothing to the studio method. But it becomes increas¬ 
ingly clear that he has little desire to repeat the experiment. 
Just before starting Too Late Blues at Paramount, he told 
me: “It is not something I am likely to do again. It’s like 
doing summer stock: it’s a good experience to have had, I 
couldn’t do it again because, for one thing, I just wouldn’t 
have the energy. Other things being equal, 1 would prefer in 
future to work in a studio rather than on location, especially 
in the case of a film like Too Late Blues where 98 per cent 
is interiors. There is a certain excitement you get from location 
shooting that is sacrificed on the set, because although there 
is nothing that can’t be built it still remains artificial. But Fm 
happy to give up the battling that location shooting involves.” 

When the shooting was over he was not disillusioned. We 
can assume that he had the usual pressures on him from 
“above”—how much time to take in shooting, how much 
set he required, how many takes of a scene to print, and so on. 
But you would guess none of this by talking with Cassavetes, 
or his assistant Seymour Cassell (who has a part in the film). 
In discussing his picture he insisted that he retained all 
essential responsibility. When I spoke of the budget pressures 
on some of his contemporaries in town, he argued that these 


pressures were either being exaggerated or, if not, that it 
should be possible to avoid them. 

He had made a similar point a few weeks before. ‘T choose 
to shoot in a major studio because of the facilities and the 
technical help ... However, when you work in a major studio, 
when they own the story (as they do with Btues)^ you have 
to be very clear in your mind why you are here. If you are 
here primarily to make money, then compromise is all right, 
in fact it becomes obligatory. In my case, I have to know 
when to draw the line, and 1 have to be prepared to quit at 
any time. If I am prepared to quit rather than give in to 
changes, then I am safe. It is only when you are not prepared 
to do this that you are in trouble.” 

However this may be, Cassavetes does not seem to be in 
trouble. Since starting on Too Late Blues, Paramount has 
offered him a five-picture contract, which he is accepting. 
His first film under this new arrangement will be shot in 
Rome with Sidney Poitier in the late autumn. It is the story 
of a friendship between a G.I. (Poitier) and a young Sardinian 
girl who has become a ferocious killer—of Nazis. At one 
point she allows him to help her, and after this contact they 
become friends. According to Cassavetes, it is not a war film 
so much as “a story about people”. He also has in mind a 
subject he calls ‘The American Dream”. “Confusion has 
replaced patriotism; the intellect has replaced love. In the 
last couple of decades or so, something has happened to the 
American dream. I don’t quite know what it is, and it’s still 
not very clear in my mind, but it’s a subject I want to do one 
day—it will probably be one of the five,” 

At this point Seymour Cassell commented that Europeans 
seemed more enthusiastic about films than Americans, partly 
he thought because the work of the belter directors was more 
personaL Cassavetes look up the point. “You have to be 
absolutely dedicated to what you’re doing. And, furthermore, 


m 






it has to be extremely personal to survive the method itself. 
This applies to the mechanics too. I found on this film that 
the technicians could do anything. Sometimes they didn't 
want to—as for example when I wanted the operator to use 
a hand-held camera, I didn’t want the camera to be steady. 
I wanted it to jog. So I staged the shot so that the operator 
had to run backwards while he was hand-holding. This way, 
if I created problems which then involved the technical crew, 
they would work out ways to cope with them.’’ 

The conversation drifted on to story structure and problems 
of dramatisation. “One thing the veterans know how to do 
very well, and 1 don't really know yet, is how to open up 
a story, how to take an audience right into the heart of it 
quickly and economically. However, 1 do not want to begin 
with a flat premise which tells everyone what the film is about. 
I want people to decide for themselves what is going on. This 
is the method I’ve used in Too Late Bhies. It may be terrible— 
we’ll have to see. But I hope people like it/’ 

As for that, it is too early to say. Paramount seems pleased 
enough, or they would not have extended their agreement 
with him. I saw only an hour or so of the shooting, and the 
last two scenes of the picture in a first cut. This was far more 
polished technically than Shadows, as could be expected. 
But in that tiny excerpt (and the work witnessed on the stage), 
the actors were seen to be more obviously acting, to be more 
predictable. If this is any indication, we can expect a complete 
change of pace and, in the work to come, an increasing 
interest in story, a growing dependence on it. And this is the 
way of most films. Some would regret that it had to be the way 
for the author of Shadows. But in fairness to him, it will be 
necessary to receive his first studio film on its own terms, not 
on the terms of its predecessor, which will be followed or 
imitated by others. 

Denis and Terry Sanders 

THE SANDERS BROTHERS ARE close to the completion of their 
second studio feature, War Hum, a story set in the final days 
of the Korean war. Their first. Crime and Fumshment, VS.A., 
disappointed many of their followers and has in general 
been better received by festival committees and by film¬ 
makers than by audiences, although its distributor, Allied 
Artists, does not seem to have extended itself in finding 
bookings. 

Crime and Fwiishment was financed by several groups 
(including the Sanders); but War Hunt is being made through 
a straightforward two-picture deal with United Artists, who, 
in return for their money and a release agreement, require 
script approval and approval of budget allocations and of 
major casting. These are perfectly acceptable limitations for 
most people, who feel uncomfortable when not “protected” 
by some sort of name in the cast and who like to be told that 
their script is, within bounds, commercial. The Sanders like 
the arrangement because they take the time to find stories 
which both they and United Artists approve. They may like 
them for diflerenl reasons, they may not. But in any case each 
is satisfied; and we can imagine the Sanders continuing to 
make films under this sort of agreement, although not 
necessarily always in Hollywood. 

War Hunt is “protected” by the presence of John Saxon in 
a starring role. His performance should establish him in 
many people’s minds as a more considerable actor than they 
had thought possible. The Sanders are making an investment 
of a dtfTerent kind in another young actor, Robert Redford, 
whom they have just signed to a five-picture contract. In the 
manner of their earlier arrangement with George Hamilton 
(starred in Crime and Fimishment), they hope to establish a 
reputation for the young actor, then have at least a limited 
hold on him for five years, during which time they can decide 
whether to use him for their own films or “lend him out” 
to other companies. This, Ter^ Sanders is reported as having 
told Variety^ puts new blood into the business. It also allows 



**Nighi Tide"*: Marjorie £<j«orJ orai DefifJis 


those responsible for the transfusion to benefit financially 
from any resulting successes. 

War Hum takes the Sanders one step closer to the Holly¬ 
wood “frame” for a picture, without committing them to 
Hollywood’s awful, deadening flatness. It is much more 
polished than their first feature and contains (in John Saxon’s 
part) a much better performance. So, in studio terms, it is 
a much more reliable picture. The longueurs are less noticeable, 
and will probably be gone by the time the film is finally cut. 
Yet it has a point of view which is clearly its own. 

Ray Endore (Saxon) plays an important role in his platoon. 
He volunteers for night patrol—every night. His reasons for 
doing this appear to be unorthodox, Roy Loomis, the 
newcomer (Robert Redford), catches a glimpse of him one 
night in the light of a flare, prancing around the form of a 
dead Chinese soldier, scrabbling in the earth like an animal 
after the kill. No one else secs this, and if they did they would 
not mention it: a man like Endore, for all his peculiarities, 
is too useful a soldier to question. Not surprisingly, the 
trouble begins when the cease fire comes. We then find that 
it is the constant strain of fighting (the “lunacy of the war 
situation,” as Terty Sanders puts it) which keeps him sane, 
and contained. It is only with the orders to cease fire that he 
cracks. He crosses over, once again and against orders, into 
the no man’s land between the lines, taking with him this 
time the young Korean boy whom he has befriended and 
made his charge. Loomis sees him go, and in the morning a 
group sets out in pursuit and finds him with the boy. In the 
ensuing scuffle Endore is shot by his commanding officer; 
and the boy flees, over the fielch, into the protecting hills, 
oflf to an uncertain fate. 

It is easy to be wise after the event with a story of this sort. 
The last cut of War Hunt which I was able to see, when it was 
being run for the composer, seemed still to move somewhat 
slowly towards what was the most interesting pan of the film— 
the escape of Endore and the boy on the night of the cease 
fire. Hindsight suggests that this point could have been reached 
sooner, so that more time could have been spent with the 
denouement. But as k is, the film-makers’ point will be made. 
A distinction is made between moral and physical courage, 
between Loomis and Endore; and a dramatisation is offered 


140 


<a "'proof” as Denis Sanders describes it) that war imposes 
insanity on the men engaged in it, or lo put it another way, 
that war is a condition in which insanity becomes invisible 
precisely because it is a requirement of the condition. 

Curtis Harrington 

FOR SEVERAL YEARS NOW, Curtls Harrington has been working 
as a special assistant to Jerry Wald, first at Columbia and 
later at Fox. It was from this position that he look leave of 
absence recently to shoot his first feature. Night Tide, from 
his own script and with a smaller budget for the film than 
most experienced directors would consider necessary to shoot 
a single reel. 

It is an interesting story, one that we could expect to have 
come from the author of so many, and such extremely 
personal, almost private, short experimental films, produced 
in Los Angeles, in London and in Venice over a period of 
years. It is set in Venice—Venice, California, a curiously 
decrepit suburb of Los Angeles which sprawls along the 
waterfront, surrounded by oil-wells and Santa Monica. It is, 
in part, absurdly grand—miniature canals without water, 
but with footbridges arching over them. It is also quite run 
down. All of this is captured by Harrington’s camera (we had 
been there before, but with not quite so much detail, in 
Crime and Punishment^ U.S.A.). It provides a splendid setting 
for a tale of mystery and (some) suspense. 

Dennis Hopper appears as a somewhat simple young sailor, 
an easy prey for a lonely, attractive girl like Mora (Linda 
Lawson), who, in between solitary walks on the beach and 
visits to jazz cellars, is employed as a mermaid at an amuse¬ 
ment park, Her employer is also her guardian, a retired and 
garrulous English sea captain living in a large and somewhat 
mysterious house, who hastens to inform the young sailor of 
the girl’s strangeness. The sailor hears this from all sides, and 
from the girl herself. She believes herself to be descended 
from an ancient race of sea people, the sirens of Greek legend, 
who themselves belong to the sea and who lure sailors into 
it to their destruction. Both of her boy friends, it is disclosed, 
were drowned in mysterious circumstances. 

This is good material for a spooker, but unfortunately 
Harrington approaches his story head on, through dialogue 
rather than situation, though without having sufficient 
dialogue on which to hang his characterisations. Whenever 
he is dealing with a scene which contains usable physical 
elements (as in a chase sequence, or an episode in which the 
girl is almost drowned under a pier), he is more at ease; and 
in those few scenes when he permits himself to return to the 
territory of his experimental shorts, as in the captain’s house, 
he keeps us continually on edge, and at that proper distance 
necessary for mystery and melodrama. Elsewhere, during the 
exposition and dialogue scenes, we are too aware of the 
longuetfis. In the second half of the film, when all the ingred¬ 
ients have been introduced (including a marvellous Woman 
in Black who appears from time to time to frighten the girl), 
these pauses and slow passages are intentional; earlier in the 
film they act to everyone’s discredit. Fortunately Harrington 
is aware of this and plans to eliminate them as soon as he can 
get the time (and the money) to make the changes. What is 
now a 90 minute picture might easily come down to 70 
minutes. And in general, in the of a first feature, it is 
essential that a director have the opportunity to reconsider 
before having his film thrown out to the critics, who are only 
too likely to be looking for the wrong things. 

Irvin Kershner and others 

OF THE REST, LITTLE CAN be said at the moment. Perhaps the 
best of them is Irv Kershner, who is gravely dissatisfied with 
the final version of Hoodium Priest. Most of the last forty- 
five minutes of the film was created by him on the set, 
without benefit of script; a love interest was reportedly not 


included in Kershner’s first cut; and there was less emphasis 
on the preaching, Kershner now puts faith in becoming his 
own producer, and has just bought LB. Singer’s Yiddish 
novel The Magician of Luhlin, which he hopes to shoot this 
year in Poland. Singer’s hero, according to Kershner, “is a 
Houdini-like character in turn-of-the-century Poland who 
goes to Warsaw to make a name for himself as a magician, 
while in his private life he acts as a twentieth century sceptic. 
He is in fact a simple man, trying to find himself, and in the 
end he is betrayed by his conscience, a relic of the past which 
he cannot leave behind. It is easier to tell a story of a man of 
this sort if it has some historical perspective ...” Kershner’s 
formula for film-making is simple; and, given the chance, he 
should prove that in the right hands it is effective. ‘"Jt is 
important only to know your craft; to feel strongly about the 
project in hand; and to be given the freedom to make it.” 

At the other end of the line is Tom Laughlin. He is learning 
his craft; he feels strongly; and he has somehow found the 
freedom to make his films - first The Proper Time and now 
the first part of a promised trilogy, Like Father^ Like Son. 
This is probably the worst film of the year, and also the most 
sincere. But in this case sincerity is not enough; nor is the 
attempt, rare in his generation in Hollywood, to return to 
his childhood for inspiration. In the end it defeats him 
because he has, as yet, insufficient understanding of it. His 
film is packed with minutiae which are only too obviously 
authentic. But they are presented without perspective, 
without humour, and without much grace. 

Ill between Kershner and Laughlin are the dozens of 
younger directors, writers and others working in cutting 
rooms, story departments and studio offices, in any of whom 
there might be a film to make us all sit up and stare. We can 
only hope so, because the work which does come out of 
Hollywood still leaves us waiting, looking for a national 
cinema, a cinema of our generation. 


Keir Duties, the young dei'mqaenu cod Don Murray, the Jesuit priest, 
in the execution scene from ir¥in Kershner's "Hoodlum Priest". 



HI 






MISFITS 


TH 



ARLENE CROCE 

A GOOD DESCRiPTiON Of The Misfits^ if someone were to ask 
you for one, fast, would be that it is a modern version 
of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears'*, with more 
screaming. It takes a little longer to be fair, however. The 
Misfits is really an Arthur Miller play written specifically for 
Marilyn Monroe, theoretically for the movies, and presumably 
for an audience. That audience, in turn, may be thought of as 
the one Miller habitually writes for, a greying mass of nail- 
biters to whom words like ’^'personal adjustment,** “conform¬ 
ism,** and “communication" sum up the entire burden the 
human conscience has to bear in mid-century America. 

Like most of Miller's plays. The Misfits contains an analysis 
of the social structure that is as weepy as it is fundamentally 
correct. Il*s true—as Paul Goodman, for one, has pointed out 
—that society no longer provides many jobs that are both 
useful and honourable, and that many of the jobs it does 
provide are actively degrading. Miller doesn't misrepresent the 
facts, only the degree and quality of poignanoe that should be 
assigned to them. As for those who are gratified to find an 
American film that has anything at all to say about the social 
structure, let them first consider to what extent Miller's 
analysis is qualified by his emotion, and then to what extent 
his emotion is qualified by his sentimentality, and then finally, 
if it is necessary to go this far, consider whether it isn't just an 
easy process of demoralisation that is reflected in Miller’s 
whole revolt, rather than a just criticism of society and its 
values. Still, the danger remains that the mystical-ethical- 
sexual solution (if it is a solution) Miller finds for his characters 
(if they are characters) will touch a lot of uncritical and self- 
accusing hearts that have grown used to the “truth*' of an 
America where men will be boys and women hysterics. 

The Misfits is nothing if not ambitious, and Miller's primary 
purpose is to show the way it really is between real men and 
women in America today. To contemplate his ponderings on 
this vast subject is to be engulfed by a farrago of abstractions 
—ignoble, treacherous, illusory and stale, and of no use to 


either men or women* The net effect of the film is not the signal 
to despair—’it isn't worth despair. It is the signal to begin again 
to wonder why it is, with all the best intentions in the world, 
Americans produce so little dramatic art that can conscionably 
address itself to adults. It is not the dramatic arts alone (i.e. 
plays, lyric theatre, most films) that suffer from this weakness, 
but they suffer most. The modem American theatre has 
produced only three figures of creative genius—Eugene 
O’Neill, Robert Edmond Jon^ and Martha Graham'—whom 
one could grow up to. In Kazan, Robbins, Bernstein, Williams 
—to take only those who at present might, could, or would, 
be “great"—we can enjoy good bones, plenty of hot technique, 
and a level of experience frozen forever, it would seem, at the 
mental age of seventeen. Play out the line of talent a bit more, 
and one comes to Arthur Miller. Miller's callowness in The 
Misfits is either the more or the less to be forgiven because he 
has initially understood callowness as part of his subject. This 
depCTds upon whether one is willing to take the thought—nay, 
the inkling—for the deed. To do so, perhaps, would be to do 
his film the justice of regarding it as the act of therapy it is; 
and it would be to accept stones for bread, even in the midst 
of this yeasty famine. Miller's functionalistic concept of art 
condemns him to be taken seriously in terms of his objective 
purpose. But when his terms are as limp and vulgar as they are 
here, one resits all ho^ not merely of the target ever being 
struck but of it ever being sighted. 

Miller's screenplay is an allegory of the no-longer-wiId- 
West. His setting for the action is Reno, plus the outlying hills 
and flats of Nevada. It is a setting of such unchallengeably self- 
evident, almost glib, contrasts that one knows right away the 
theme is to be Our Lost Innocence. But one grants Miller the 
power of the locale and its full symbolic value. This theme, 
however, grows increasingly factitious as bit by bit Miller 
builds up biographies for his three male protagonists and the 


Abo^e; t^ie mustang round-up in Misfits*\ 







one woman who is their collective foil* Miller's three men 
(described as ‘"^the last real men on earth, and” [for a woman's 
purposes] *'as unreliable as jack-rabbits”) are a debonairly 
ageing cowhand named Gay (short for Gable, another self- 
evident symbol); a soured little pilot and auto mechanic named 
Guido, whose masculine self-esteem, like that of a Norman 
Mailer hero, seems to have been entirely conditioned by 
combat missions in World War II; and an Oedipally obsessed 
young rodeo rider named Perce, who can't communicate^ 

Nobody can communicate (Miller calls it *‘saying *HeHo' ”) 
except when drunk, and then only incoherently. The three 
parts have been clearly typed as modern variants of the pro¬ 
gressive degeneration of a species—an expose, almost, of the 
Westerner as folk hero. Only Gay remains as the last of the 
authentic breed, but he is also the ineffectual father, stripped of 
respectability and the love of his children by divorce. Guido, 
the creature of World War 11, is the ordinary man who chooses 
the West as a means of opting out of the economic dilemma* 
He, loo, is an example of frustrated domesticity, as shown by 
his dead wife and unfinished house. Similarly with Perce, the 
mixed-up adolescent, cheated out of his patrimony by his 
mother's remarriage. For them all the West is the last outpost 
of freedom in an over-organised society, where a version of 
what Goodman has called “manly work" is still legally avail¬ 
able for the risking. The returns are small, and what's legal may 
not look very nice to the thin-skinned sort, but hell, "any¬ 
thing’s better'n wages*” Not for Jong, however, can Gay, 
Guido and Perce escape the knowledge that even the last 
frontier has gone, quite literally, to the dogs. In the old days 
you rounded up wild mustangs for children to have as pets; 
now they go for four cents a pound to the dogfood dealers. It 
was from this core of irony that Miller extracted a certain 
amount of sincere dramatic pathos, enough for a good film* in 
his first version of The Misfits^ published as a short story in 
1957. Just as in every big fat three-hour Hollywood film there 
is a trim little ninety-minute one crying to get out, somewhere 
in the expanse of the film that was produced there exists proper 
material for the dry, hard-swallowing, mutely effective kind of 
movie John Huston used to make* With the three characters 
presented as straight vocational studies and not as type- 
sp^imens out of a casebook, and with an unstressed symbolic 
unity of horses and men, we might ha ve had a good film about 
the decline of mustanging. Miller, however, must wade into 
waters deeper than this, and his portentous symbolicising of 
everyone and everything in sight is nowhere more grotesque 
than in his introduction of Miss Marilyn Monroe as the agent 
of a feminist ethic of conversion. 

In all her exploited career Miss Monroe has never made a 
stranger appearance than she does here, in a role that gives 
every indication of having been written for, about, and even 
by, her. She is cast as Roslyn Taber, a forlorn little night club 
artiste in the penultimate stage of mental torture, who has 
come out to Reno for a divorce. She, too, has suffered from 
lack of communication: indifferent parents, a husband who 
"was never there”. But she is also something of an intuitive 
genius with an innate sympathy for the sufferings of others, 
instinctively recoiling from the bad in them or bringing out the 
good. She is shnpatko^ tn fact, to the point of subversion, and 
it is she who reveals to the three last men on earth that their 
frontiermanship is really seif-destruction, that killing horses is 
wrong, that they must change their lives. This is the price of 
communication at last. With Roslyn it all, for the first time, 
"lights up”, Roslyn-Marilyn and Gay-Gable, in a great 
binding of male and female essences, are united. At the fadeout 
they are both heading into a starlit, and conceivably vege¬ 
tarian, future. 

It is quite beside the point to dwell on how Marilyn Monroe 
“acts” this part. She is not called upon to act at all. If the parts 
of Gay, Guido and Perce are made-to-order sociological types, 


t^arUyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift. 


the part of Roslyn is what might be called characterisation by 
attribution. "You have finally come in contact with a real 
woman,” Gay is told. And Roslyn herself is repeatedly com¬ 
plimented: “When you smile it’s like the sun coming up”; 
“You got respect for a man”; “You got the gift of life in you, 
Roslyn”; or, more to the point, "You say the strangest 
things.” Roslyn, however, says nothing that Hollywood in its 
infinite idealism cannot understand* She is admiringly spoken 
of in the film as being "brand new”, which is a pretty steeply 
contrived euphemism for “born yesterday”* In so far as she 
stands at the centre of Miller's schematic world, she represents 
a moral simplism that is the very coin of current usage. Any¬ 
thing's better than wages, but communication is better than 
anything* Believing in dybbuks is better than believing in 
nothing. Be a mensch. These null affirmations are notable, not 
only because they evade contextual issues, but because they 
lack true pride of sentiment* They arc like toasts proposed by 
a frightened drunk. What is it exactly that is being com¬ 
municated? Is it that “gift of life”? 

Miller is apparently persuaded that the death-wish is so 
strong among us we have to be told to live. He presents Roslyn 
as an image of feminine soul force, a light before men. Only 
Guido resists her influence in a last-ditch stand against 
"wages”. But unlike the other two “dead men”, Gay and 
Perce, Guido can never be reborn. Guido finds buzzing 
panicked mustangs in his little plane almost as thrilling as 
dropping bombs from his B-17. For this he is told off 
(“excommunicated”?) by Roslyn, the truth-si^ker: “You 
like to kill! You really like it!” Interestingly, Guido is the only 
one of the three men to express carnal desire for Roslyn. To 
Perce she is Gay's girl, but to Guido she is the girl Gay stole. 
Gay's attitude toward Roslyn is courtly, in the Western style* 
Although he and Roslyn become lovers early on, there is no 
seduction—just a long drunken bout, followed (though here the 
editing is ambiguotis) by a long sleep, followed by breakfast. 
There are no love scenes in the film. Obviously, Roslyn will be 
had on her own, or Miller's terms, or not at all. Guido's 
implied unworthiness of Roslyn is part of Miller's whole 
laborious campaign in this film to exorcise the demon. Her 
occupancy—^with Gay—of Guido's cottage, the planting of 
flowers, the little domestic arrangements, the refusal to let Gay 
shoot the rabbit that raids the lettuce patch, the emotion over 



143 




the horses^ all bring Life to the desert. Roslyn stands four¬ 
square against the death-wish, and let's drink to it- Miller's 
insistence on Life has the table-banging desperation of liberal 
evangelism down to its last Big Idea. The tone of desperation 
is clear in his own statement of his aims as a dramatist: am 
simply asking for a theatre in which an adult who wants to live 
can find plays that will heighten his awareness of what living 
in our time involves/* But Milter is able to tell us only that 
living in our time involves the need to live. 

It has become a commonplace to say of John Huston that 
the bigger the subject the harder he falls. In this case he fails 
only from the bottom step. He has let Miller have the show. 
Whether because of Miller's reputation^ or because of the 
manifest hopelessness of the whole project, his direction seems 
curiously daunted. He does not make very much of Reno or 
the rodeo, there are no faces in the crowd except those 
belonging to Kevin McCarthy, James Barton and Estelle 
Winwood in three completely expendable **guest” appear¬ 
ances. Miller's script gives Huston one good chance at an old 
specialty in the long mustanging sequence, and Huston films it 
like an old specialty—taut, exciting, beautifully set up and 
built. Purely as an exercise in tactical virtuosity, it is one of the 
best things Huston has ever done, and Gable and the stallion 
are an improvement on Gregory Peck and the white whale. 
Huston's technical style still has its improvisaiional sheen, but 
one device is beginjiing to wear, and that is his preference for 
goldfish*bowl group framing as a substitute for reaction shots. 
It has now become a means of avoiding dramatic selection; 
the camera collects vacuity while the talk runs on. 


But if one aesthetic offense could be singled out of the entire 
production, it would be that talk. Miller's dialogue^^—diction, 
really^is composed in that style of literary burlap that is 
supposed to convey profound simplicity, or simple profundity. 
The man who once described the Salesman as “way out there 
in the blue riding on a smile and a shoeshine” now has the 
frustrated pilot say, ‘T can’t get off the ground and I can’t get 
up to God/' Efi Wallach speaks this line and plays his whole 
role with an inordinate amount of Methodical concentration. 
Montgomery Clift is too old and too intelligent for Perce, but 
he looks, acts and moves like a rodeo rider. Thelma Ritter 
appears long enough to present her credentials as Miller’s 
mouthpiece and scene-setter, and then retires. Clark Gable’s 
last appearance is also his best in years. His imperial glints of 
amusement in his scenes with Monroe make the verbiage much 
easier to take, and one little but perfectly calculated shot of 
him carrying two heavy cinder blocks f^or her to use as a 
doorstep seems touchingly to appreciate his mastery. 

There remains, there will always remain, Marilyn Monroe. 
Who or what is Marilyn Monroe? The world has been led to 
think of her as Circe. Miller plainly sees her as Penelope, with 
some of the activist spunk of a Lysistrata. It is perhaps worth 
recalling that John Huston was once signed to direct her as 
Lysistrata in a television debut that never came off. Here, his 
direction of her is liable to turn up some Aristophanic flashes 
which peculiarly blur Miller's more spiritual conception. In 
some more enlightened day, someone will cast her accurately, 
as Delilah. With what lamblike efficiency could she then wreak 
her proper vengeance on the long-hairs. 


FILM 

REVIEWS 


ONE EYED JACKS 

T SEEMS YEARS sincc Maflon Brando's One Eyed Jacks (Paramount) 

first went into production. Stanley Kubrick was to direct it, and 
Spartaens and Loiita have been made in the interval; there were 
reports of a rough-cut running to five hours; pauses while the 
director took time off to act in other films; stories of re-shooting, 
re-editing, a revised ending. And, after all this, there is something 
massive about the film. It is extravagant and original, exorbitant and 
absurd, a show-case constructed not so much around Brando’s 
talent as an actor, since he has given better and truer performances, 
but around his temperament. 

Brando is a romantic actor with the manner and training of a 
realist. Beneath the mumbling delivery, the sense of a performer 
worrying at words to extract some ultimate, unrevealed meaning, 
beneath the effortless contemporaneity which allowed him to speak 
for his generation in films like The Wild One and On the Waterfrom, 
one has also the sense of a West Coast Heathcliff struggling to get 
out. And in One Eyed Jacks he has got out. This is a performance of 
monumental abstraction, in which the actor always seems to have 
his back against the wail, to be sitting in a corner, wrapped in a 
heavy cape, gazing into space. Although the film is his, he has as it 
were withdrawn from it into these stormy meditations; and while he 
deliberates, events must wait for him. It all has, too, that broad 
streak of masochism which so often goes with a romantic despera¬ 
tion. Rio, the bandit hero of One Eyed Jacks, has robbed a few banks 
in his time. But a prison sentence—he is only captured as the result 
of an act of treachery—has served to expiate these crimes. For the 


greater part of the film, Rio suffers in silence. He is betrayed again 
by his former partner and mentor, now a respectable lawman. {This 
character, played by Karl Malden, is nicknamed Dad: Freudians are 
left to draw their own conclusions.) He is tricked by his new 
partners; he is caged and whipped and spat on; his gun hand is 
brutally smashed; and he reacts to all this with the lowered head and 
savage glare of a bull in the arena. His only allies are a Mexican 
Indian, cheerfully matter-of-fact, an old chess-playing Chinese 
fisherman, and Dad’s Mexican step-daughter, who in the end is 
instrumental in rescuing him from the gallows. 

As it must, the film takes its tone and tempo from this central 
performance, It is slow and sulky, hazy rather than clear-cut, 
thunderously oppressive rather than vigorous. The point it reaches 
after finds expression in the title. Men, like playing cards, like the 
bar-room Mona Lisa with the ace of hearts in her hand* wear two 
faces. The honest sheriff, respected for his firm discipline, was once 
a bank robber and remains a traitor to friendship; the bandit will 
turn from vengeance and deceit to truth and love, but will still be 
trapped by other men’s treachery; his fellow thieves will become his 
new betrayers. The screenplay, by Guy Trosper and Calder Willing¬ 
ham, though strongly influenced one imagines by Brando himself, 
strains to lift its episodes to the pitch of epic encounters. Into the 
prolonged struggle between Dad and Rio are fitted most of the 
classic Western incidents: the bank robbery and chase across 
the waste lard; the stranger riding up to the lonely ranch; the posse 
and the threat of a lynching; the gun duel in the town square. As in 
a Jacobean tragedy of pride and revenge, these ritual happenings are 
to serve high romantic ends; but it need^ a torrent of poetry to carry 
them along, and it is in a poetry to match its ambitions that One 
Eyed Jacks is dcficiem. 

Brando's cameraman, Charles Lang, has risen magnificently to the 
occasion. The exterior photography, in pirticular, is as genuinely 
romantic, as charged, as the film in its entirety would like to be. Its 
pattern is broken by some awkward intrusions of close-ups* clumsy 
reminders that the film’s failure is one of scale and balance. This 
must be the only Western—certainly the only Western one can 
remember—to be set largely on the sea coast. It’s against a back¬ 
ground of waves crashing against a rocky shore that the bardits 
quarrel and plot and ride out to rob a bank. Characteristic, both in 
its visual beauty and in the high self-consciousness of its imagery, 
is the scene in which the girl {played with spirit by Pina Pellicer) 
rides out to visit Rio. The bandit, flexing his injured gun hand in a 
series of small, agonised movements* is testing out his speed on the 


144 





draw; a solttary, angry figure among the rocks, Louisa^ cloaked ar:d 
hooded, rides up like some idealised nineteenth-ceniary heroine, 
a Diana Vernon of the South West- 

How much, one feels, Brando enjoys striking attitudes; and how 
much the striking of attitudes has spilt over into his direction. The 
drive and authority of the film at its best are continually being 
compromised by the overbearingextravaganceof the film at its worst. 
That opening fight with the ruraie^, when a sandstorm obscures the 
advancing men, guns flash through the murk, and the hunched, 
squatting Rio raises his hands in surrender, has a grandeur of scale. 
But when Karl Malden’s snarling sheriflT whips Brando in the town 
square or rounds on his patiently obstinate wife {Katy Jurado), when 
the Jailer (Slim Pickens) humiliates his prisoner, when the heroine 
comes to the rescue with an empty pistol concealed in a dish of food, 
we are not in the legendary West where the film should belong but 
in a picture taking itself with unwarranted solemnity. Such repeated 
images of melancholy and violence, so many cloaked figures, lone 
riders, sad silhouettes, take on the luxuriance of grand opera 
without the operatic justification. 

The romantic Western has been losing ground to the Freudian 
Western; and if Brando's temperament seems primarily that of a 
romantic, there are also other things that he wants to say. But the 
two schools cannot be so easily reconciled: the broad outlines of the 
legend war with the rudimentary psychological interpretations. The 
satisfactions of 0/ie EyedJacks lie in watching an artist of this calibre 
at work, the display of that quintessential actor's egotism which 
admits of no limits to what the player, merely through his presence, 
can communicate. He is simply there; and so, tn all its arrogance^ is 
his bank robber's adventure. 

Penelope Houston 


THE CONNECTION 

*'nrHERE's NOTHING GOING ON visuafiy,"* says one of the characters 

1 in The Connect ion; at which another actor picks up a hoop and 
slyly makes some patterns for the camera. Jack Gelber’s cool-cyed 
play about a group of heroin addicts who are wailing for a fix, in 
the meantime amusedly indulging the presence of a film unit, is 
characteristically derisive about the way cinema people go on about 
“images". Anyone who suggests that Shirley Clarke has “translated 
the play into cinematic terms” should feel the hipsters’ breath on 
his neck. All the same, it has to be said: The Connection (Contem¬ 
porary) is one of the rare stage pieces that is improved in its screen 
version. 

This often means, as the junkies beadity note, nothing more than 
that the director has been visually flashy, eliminated the lines that 
can be better expressed in the cinema by the way someone shrugs 
or behaves when he is alone, and perhaps realised the potentialities 
of film to the extent of adding a car crash to the action. Shirley 
Clarke, the young American who made The Connection, has done 
something more crucial: though she adheres closely to the original 
text and never stirs outside the junkies' pad, she has altered the 
relation of the audience to what is going on, which in The Connec¬ 
tion is peculiarly important. 

In the stage version, the play hangs on the Pirandellian device of 
an “author” who is planted in the audience, complaining inter* 
miltently that his work is being ruined by junkie actors. The pretence 
of real life intervening has the effect of underlining the opposite and 
reminding one that one is in a theatre, and the voice from the stalls 
chiefly makes the spectators un fruit fully self-conscious. In Gelber’s 
screenplay the character of the author is eliminated: part of his 
function is appropriated by the “director”, Jim Dunn, but because 
he is on the screen with the others he is absorbed into the fiction. 
The opposition is no longer between actors and author, pretending 
to be sparring at a rehearsal, but between actors and spectators, 
which is what GeJber always intended. In the theatre the paralysing 
question was whether the author's complaints were right, and 
whether the simulated improvising of the actors was indeed as 
boring as he said it was; in the cinema the correct, discomfiting 
question becomes one about our own motives in wanting to spy on 
drug addicts. In the theatre the audience often felt embarrassed; 
in the cinema it feels accused. 

This is partly due to the rewriting, but mostly to Shirley Clarke’s 
brillianl insistence that the camera is the instrument of our own 
curiosity. In most films the camera has no identity: it is simply a 
conveniently agile window through which one can stare without 
being seen, and one questions its superhuman perceptiveness no 



more than one questions the fact that a novelist has such an un¬ 
likely nose for being in the right place at the right time. In The 
Connection, on the other hand, the camera is always a palpable 
object. The junkies glare at it, are amused by it and turn away from 
the lights as blindly as they do from the director's questions. Apart 
from the sequences when the shooting is taken over by Jim Dunn 
with a hand-held camera, the operator is an unseen but powerful 
presence, occasionally speaking monosyllabically from behind the 
camera and always severely doubtful of his boss’s propriety tq 
thinking to make art of such sorry goings-on. The spectator’s 
identification with this character, called J. J. Burden - a variant on 
Jaybird, the author-character of the stage version—becomes, in 
time, complete and perturb mg, for his silences emit a pretty square 
and unbudging personality. 

After films like Hiroshima, mon Amour, and Moderato Cantabiie^ 
and Vne Aussi Longne Absence, we have grown used to the notion 
that films can be driven forward not by a plot but simply by the way 
the characters react upon one another. The Connection goes further: 
not only is it without action, but it is also very nearly without 
interaction, for like all addicts the characters are effectively sealed 
off from human communication, Their talk is idle self-colloquy: 
they expect nothing of one another, do only what is absolutely 
necessary, and would scorn, as true hipsters, the idea of selling 
themselves as characters or even Justifying their addiction. “That’s 
the way it is. Man, that’s the way it really is^” becomes a recurring 
phrase in the play; and apart from some desultory speculation 
about why heroin should have been made illegal, they ask no 
questions. (“Maybe popular opinion. Maybe the liquor lobby. To 
protect people from themselves . . , ” “Man, they got a bomb, 
haven’t they, to protect us from ourselves?”) The Connection is a 
study of men with scepticism but no curiosity, great insight coupled 
with total inertia: they are, in the most precise sense, ami-social. 

In a film of minute and flawless naturalism, the one unaccount¬ 
able failure of documentary truth is the absence, while we are 
looking at the room through Jim Dunn’s swinging lens, of the other 
camera and the stolid J. J. With one exception, actors and jaiz 
musicians all played in the off-Broadway or London productions, 
or both: the newcomer is William Redfield as Jim Dunn, a dapper, 


145 





**ThG CojinectJOn”: J'm A/idersorj* Jackie McLeon aa<S Lorry Ritchie. 


nervy intruder with the most convincing stammer I have heard 
since Anthony Perkins' in Psycho. Negotiating anxiously between 
the junkies and the cameraman, who constantly threatens the cool 
niood with his moral silences, the director finally falls in with the 
hipsters and has a fix himself, partly out of an edgy wish to be pari 
of the gang, and partly because he is genuinely bothered about the 
frivolity of his outsider's view. “There’s something dirty about just 

peeking—into people’s lives?” he hisses agonised at the camera¬ 
man, looking for a denial After his fix he uses the hand-held camera 
for a while, staring glazed at chance objects like a door-handle or 
a crawling fly, and one is forced into an unnerving participation in 
the stupid sensibility of the drugged. Not that the camerawork has 
ever been exactly agitated, even in the hands of the far from high 
J. J. Burden. The takes are long and unfussed, and often stray away 
from the sound or fail to cut to a speaker at all The amount of 
dialogue that is played in front of the camera, in fact, represents 
very much the proportion of time that one would spend gazing at 
the face of a member of one’s own household if one were in the same 
room with him for two hours. 

One can pick a few holes in the play* particularly for its un¬ 
remitting scorn of its characters, and its respect for a coolness that 
is sometimes downright moribundity; There are moments, too, when 
The Connection romanticises the anti-romantic. Against this one has 
to put an admirably unsensational attitude to dope, a matching 
refusal to supply theatrical kicks, an impeccable ear for the hipster's 
patois, and a black, abrupt humour. For Shirley Clarke's direction 
there can be nothing but praise: with Shadows, this is a film with 
more creative flair than any that has come out of America for years. 

Penelopc Gilliatt 


THREE DIRECTORS AND 
A THEME 

T ime was when we longed for a more youthful, believable 
approach in films about juvenile delinquency. Either we got an 
impression of box-office flirtation, of conscience clouded by middle- 
aged hysteria; or of a multifarious selection of special cases owing 
more to the sociological digest than to first-hand observation. Much 
of that is changed now. Impecunious tiros like Irvin Kershner, 
denied studio facilities, gave us recognisable city surfaces and states 
of adolescent mind. A young, much-touted TV director like John 
Frankenheimer was applauded for the quiet intensity and intimacy, 
the almost microcosmic scaling-down of a notoriously unwieldy 
theme, in The Young Stranger. Presumably these were the qualities 
which prompted producers Harold Hccht and Burt Lancaster to 


reclaim Frankenheimer from a hectic, self-imposed four-year exile 
in TV. At any rate, whatever the faults of Frankenheimer’s The 
Young Savages (United Artists), neglect of the genius ioci isn’t one 
of them. The reality of the garbage-strewn streets, the tenements, 
the distinctive uniforms and hair-styles of rival gangs in a ’"turf” 
like Spanish Harlem has rarely seemed so pervasive. 

But one has long ceased to wonder at the disadvantages in the 
verisimilar approach. And here, except that the details of gang 
warfare aren’t impermissibly emphasised, the dangers are in full 
array. The script not only contorts itself in accommodating in¬ 
genuous twists and comments on just about every conceivable 
side-issue including the H-bomb: it positively dislocates itself in its 
determination to view the responsibility for the death of a blind 
Puerto Rican boy, and the compulsions driving his three switch¬ 
blade assassins, from as many points of view as the film has genre 
characters. Thus we get the D.A. with gubernatorial ambitions; the 
16-year-old prostitute; the victim's statuesque, black-garbed mother; 
the cynical journalist; the investigator's ex-girl friend, mother of 
one of the defendants, who has learnt about environmental influences 
from life; the investigator's smugly liberal graduate wife, who has 
learnt it all from text-books; and the slum-born investigator himself 
(Burt Lancaster in Glenn Ford's usual role), who begins by seeking 
the death penally, goes on to doubt his own instincts after trying to 
throttle a chain-wielding yob, and ends by taking over the defence. 
This chaotic mass of truisms has reduced its director to what one 
can only assume is severe anxiety state. Punctuated by a monotony 
of shock-cuts, his subjective camera swerves, tilts, zeroes in and 
retreats to the inevitable long-shot of three figures scampering 
across a rubbish dump; the sound-track crackles, the images are, 
de rigueur, grainy, the music thrusts with alonal yelps. Apart from 
a crib from Hitchcock, when the stabbing is seen in closc-up in the 
reflection of the victim's dark glasses, and a TV-taut but Boomerang* 
contrived court scene, there is nothing in the film to distinguish 
Frankenheimer from any Kazan mimic, A promising young 
director's gifts have been turned inside-out; and one hopes his 
employers' self-esteem has been satisfied in the process. 

The flaws in Kershner's The Moodium Priest (United Artists), 
while no less apparent, no less attributable to the current producer- 
star mania for sermons spelt out like sky-writing, are considerably 
more forgivable. Ostensibly a routine, low-budget, locations hot 
tribute to a St. Louis Jesuit, Charles Dismas Clark, who for 25 years 
has served as the friend and confessor of convicts* the film generates 
both sympathy and concern. The story is developed crudely, 
sentimentally and in terms of the usual loaded cliches (another 
jaundiced newspaperman) through the priest’s efforts to divert a 
youngster from a life of crime, and finally from the gas chamber. 
With all its faults, though, this simplified approach remains drama¬ 
tically tougher than that of The Young Savages, eventually 
crystallising the priest’s uncompromising dedication to the boy in 
one of those fool-proof police sieges, all rifles, tear-gas and mad-eyed 
terror, which have given audiences a vague thrill of guilt ever since 
Angeis With Dirty Faces. It proceeds to attack capital punishment 
with a sobriety and economy of visual means far more effective than 
Susan Hayward’s Award-winning death-cell agonies. Here Ketr 
Dullea's honestly incredulous performance as the condemned boy, 
and Don Murray's well-meaning if previously too adulatory 
impersonation of the priest, interfuse and mutually identify with 
the spectator’s reactions (neatly pointed in glimpses of gaunt, 
anonymous faces peering into the death chamber) to provide a 
climactic act of audience participation in the facts of legal murder. 
Kershner's direction, despite chunks of Father-knows-best dialogue 
written pscudonymously by Murray himself, manages to advance 
much of the story without aid of speech. Whole passage and 
transitions are manipulated in elliptical, silent style, arguing an 
assurance extended since Stakeout on Dope Street and The Young 
Captives. 

The pre-eminence of a recent Italian film on the same subject. 
Franco Rossi’s Death of a Friend (Gala), is in some ways surprising. 
Its ingredients—pimps in sun-glasses jockeying motor-scooters, 
pavements-full of bangled prostimtes—could hardly be more 
familiar. Nor is there much to choose between the Frankenheimers 
and their Italian colleagues when it comes to directors insisting on 
audiences knowing who's in command of the camera. But Rossi 
begins with two advantages: freedom from that current compulsion 
to explicate themselves and their themes ad nauseam common to 
American actor-producers—his film in fact has no star names; and 
an incisive, witty, yet unassuming eye for real backgrounds and 
people (Didi Perego gives a splendid performance of insolent 
sensuality as one of the prostitutes) closer to our own Karel Reisz 
than anyone. 

Like Kershner, Rossi has brought his subject down to a 


146 



deliberately simplified, schematic relationship: two boys, opposites 
ifi colouring, temperament and family circumstances, bound by 
illogical affection, the one influencing the other and his way of life. 
The playing, with Spiros Focas easily and sardonically ascendant 
over a likeably inhibited Gianni Garko, pays tribute to Rossi’s 
sensibility and insight. That the film, for all its truth, cannot 
uitimately succeed in transcending its convention is betrayed by 
the ending—that hoary Came finale of robbery, car chase and 
vigil-besidc-thc^body-through-the-night. Vicious heroes, like young 
directors, demand reasonably cool appraisal. The first can be made 
affecting, as two of these three films under review show. But the 
second, whatever their promise, cannot be allowed to get away with 
the sort of rueful, damp-eyed complicity for which we were not so 
long ago trouncing their elders. Still, Rossi will make a mature 
personal film one day. 

Peter John Over 


EXODUS and THE GUNS 
OF NAVARONE 

A FEW YEARS AGO, the vcry long and expensive film was usually a 
Biblical subject, probably produced by Cecil B. de Mille. 
Nowadays, when audiences are prepared to settle down for a long 
evening with one film only, the super-production attracts a wider 
range of talent (Kubrick, Vidor, Nicholas Ray) and has built up 
its own set of rules. With such an enormous financial outlay, these 
films also need a special kind of guarantee in box-office returns. 
Accordingly, the director’s position has become peculiarly perilous; 
some succeed in retaining their individuality, others become lost 
in a jungle of accounting and difficult locations. In the words of 
one Hollywood director, they feel themselves assisting at the birth 
not of a film, but of a large, top-heavy celluloid ship. The two films 
reviewed here total over six hours running time, cost £4 million 
between them, and are inspired by that box-office certainty: war. 
Though dissimilar in method and quality, both reflect the problems 
involved in this kind of marathon undertaking. 

Among the difficulties to be faced in adapting a vastly debatable 
book such as Leon Uris’s Exodus (United Artists), simplificaiioti 
and reduction were clearly obligatory. Dalton Trumbo’s script, 
however^ not only simplifies the original but most of its accompany¬ 
ing implications as well. Direct accusations are as far as possible 
avoided, for this is a film which tries to be fair (for box-office 
reasons as well as political ones) to all concerned. The intransi¬ 
gence of the British authorities in Cyprus during the post-war 
Palestinian crisis is symbolised in the person of an anti-Jewish 
officer (slightly overdone by Peter Lawford); but as the British 
commander is played by such an obviously humane figure as 
Ralph Richardson, the balance is more than restored. The Arab 
viewpoint is represented mainly through a few comforting phrases 
given to a friendly Mukhtar (a thinly disguised John Derek) ; only 
after partition has been declared do the Arabs assume a major role 
when, led by a sinister Nazi officer, they become the equivalent of 
the marauding Indians in a Western. But this is essentially a Jewish 
story, and naturally it presents a nationalist case in which the end, 
presumably, justifies the means. And yet, having presented the case 
for both violent and non-violent action, the film tries to have it 
both ways. The Irgun decision to blow up the King David Hotel is 
discussed, but the results are never shown; the moral implications 
of this and other acts are soon lost in the confusion of action which 
comprises the film’s second half. For the first two hours, however, 
we see a fierce conflict whittled down to a kid-gloved sparring match, 
with handsome Jewish patriots confronting urbane British officials. 
Faced with such daunting shortcomings, how can this 3i hour 
film survive? The answer can be found in the best pans of Trumbo's 
script and in the all-embracing control of Otto Preminger’s direc¬ 
tion. Exodus has the negative virtue of avoiding the kind of crass 
vulgarity which would have been insufferable in such a subject. In 
this respect, Trumbo’s adaptation is at its best when isolating a 
single event or presenting a simple glossary of attitudes. The 
interrogation of the young would-be terrorist by the Irgun leader 
(an excellent performance by David Opatoshu) is a useful example. 
Sharply written and disturbing in its final revelation, this episode 
has a feeling of hard reality which even theatrical lighting cannot 
dispel. Although the characters are conceived mainly as spokesmen 
for points of view, Preminger gives them a consistent life of their 
own. Both Paul Newman, as the Haganah hero, and Eva Marie 
Saint, as the American nurse who becomes involved in the conflict, 
play with unusual relaxation and intimacy; and the one wholly 


"Deoth of a friend'^: Gmnnr Gorko, Spiros Focas and Didi Perego. 


inadequate performance—Jill Haworth's young refugee—is a piece 
of beginner’s bad luck. 

What of Preminger’s celebrated mise en scine^f Like other Holly¬ 
wood film-makers of his generation, Preminger has an instinctive 
feeling for the revealing camera set-up. There is scarcely an image 
in this film which is allowed to become dead or meaningless. At the 
same time, ostentation is avoided; many scenes are allowed to 
continue in static set-ups for quite a long time, and when movement 
arrives, it is sudden, sharp and highly organised. The colour 
photography of Sam Leavitt is not only his best work for many 
years, but hints at a keen intelligence behind the use and deployment 
of colours. Preminger and Leavitt achieve great variety by con¬ 
trasting the hot Eastern whites and yellows with dark figures and 
dark interiors; and the prison escape sequence (brilliantly cut by 
Louis Loeffler) is an outstanding piece of stage-management. 

Exodus, then, sees Preminger’s sheer movie-making talent at its 
most extended. Unhappily, the ability to sustain a large canvas 
does not necessarily result in a good film. As an artist, Preminger 
seems to require material which can be viewed with rigorous 
or ironic detachment. He can be warmed by an emotional outburst 
(some scenes on board the Exodus mix cliches with genuine fervour), 
but when an intimate response is called for, as in the meeting be¬ 
tween the girl Karen and her war-shocked father, pity congeals into 
bathos. Again, at the very end, with the burying of the innocents 
and Newman’s slightly sanctimonious oration, we are left with an 
emotional gesture, sincerely intended no doubt, which it remains 
hard to equate with the final shots of the Jewish trucks trundling 
off to yet another battle. 

If Exodus belonp primarily to its director, one feels that The 
Guns of Navarone (Columbia) is mainly the conception of its 
producer and adaptor, Carl Foreman. Here is a plot which could 
have made an effective wartime adventure story^ a little old- 
fashioned perhaps, yet sufficient for ninety minutes entertainment 
with a sure, swift forward drive towards its spectacular climax. 
Unhappily, elephantiasis has taken its toll. Filled out with dialogue 
exchanges about bravery, cowardice, and personal responsibility 
in action, the film laboriously tracks its little band of British sabo¬ 
teurs as they wander around pretty Greek locations, despatching 
both Germans and local traitors as they go. The emphasis laid on 
the characters’ interior stresses suggests that this was the aspect 
of the story which mainly concerned its producer. But as these 
bouts of introspection are neither clarified or explored, their only 
effect is to inflate the narrative unreasonably. The actual action 
sequences might have served well enough had they been more 
expertly done. J. Lee Thompson’s direction fails to quicken the 
pulse, however, except in a well constructed studio shipwreck, and 
he has encouraged Gregory Pcx:k and David Niven to repeat their 



147 




well-worn portrayals of tight-lipped infiexibility and jaunty dare- 
devilry. Above all, the film lacks a firm controlling hand which 
would have ironed out passages of incoherent editing and made the 
climax really tell Whereas one is carried along by the mechanics 
of the Exodus prison break, by the time the attack on the Nava rone 
guns is reached the film*s volition is exhausted and one watches the 
operation with a kind of tired detachment. 

Can a lesson be drawn from these two long and costly films? To a 
certain extent, both use the facts of war to weave a wilful romantic 
fiction around their protagonists. Following current practice, 
they encourage prestige through a readiness to examine serious 
themes—so long as they do not impair box-office potential Here, 
perhaps^ is a foretaste of the big commercial blockbuster of the 
1960s: three hour marathons with a mild dose of “think” material 
at the beginning and some good rousing carnage towards the end. 
For obvious financial reasons* such films are unlikely to arrive in 
large numbers; and it seems reasonable to assume that they will 
not seriously disconcert the more intimate voices which are appear¬ 
ing in ever growing numbers in Europe* the East and America 
itsell 

John Gillett 


TWO DAUGHTERS 

T WO DAUGHTERS —they were originally three* but one of them* 
alas* was dropped in transit to make a shorter film—is based on 
a couple of Tagore stories {The Postmaster^ Samapti) and was made 
specifically for the centenary of this formidable guru. In describing 
them as nothing more than divertimenti to be enjoyed in the spirit 
of a Festival, Satyajit Ray has been too modest; for these short 
stories* though slight* are never trivial. They may be comedies— 
in every sense of the word—but, as in all good comedies* the 
richness of the humour depends on serious preoccupations. In the 
light of Ray^s recurring themes, Two Daughters can be seen as an 
honourable development; a variation, perhaps, in a new and 
exquisite key. 

Both stories employ similar devices. At first ostensibly about 
two cultured fellows placed in situations beyond their control, they 
soon turn out to be mainly concerned with the girls in the case* 
the girls with whom they are both, in different ways, horribly 
involved- In the first tale Mr. Nanda, a Calcutta poet paying his 
way as a postmaster* is transferred to a steaming outback depot— 
to what turns out to be his speedy detriment. Jungle life quickly 
wears him down. His nerves are shattered by the antics of a preying 
lunatic* by the music of local amateurs, and by a severe bout of 
malaria. Hastily he resigns from the postal service and returns to 
Calcutta; but in doing so he fails a Little servant-girl whom he has 
been teaching the rudiments of writing. This orphan—the film's 
real protagonist—stands in for all the underprivileged in their 
hopeless bravery; and Nanda’s betrayal of the girls hopes (for it is 
no less) represents just as much the failure of the hypersensitive 
man to transform a desperate situation. This play of heroism 
against urdcrstandablc cowardice is beautifully caught in the final 
scene, as Nanda slinks away from the depot. The girl passes him, 
and as he offers her a rupee she proudly ignores him. In long shot 
they turn and look back at each other—he dressed in city clothes, 



J l\ 























she burdened by a huge pail of water. Then Nanda ambles on. By 
the side of the path the lunatic slumps stiffly. 

This poignant affair surprisingly gives Ray a free hand for a 
most delicate humour* in which the incongruity of civilised man in 
far from civilised surroundings is exploited, with tact* to the full. 
Nanda^s first encounter with the lunatic is hilarious, and his em¬ 
barrassment at collapsing furniture, at the ceaseless drone of the 
musicians, could win the admiration of even M. Hulot. The 
Postmaster is a fine piece of work: if it weren't flawed by Ray’s usual 
cliche of a storm at a moment of crisis, it would be a masterpiece. 

Samapti is sharper and brisker; a comedy of love, in fact, con¬ 
veyed in what is a generally taut narrative. Again we have the 
sensitive and scholarly hero: a young law student* home For the 
holidays* who is self-centred* vain and well-intentioned in much the 
same way as Mr. Nanda. His mother wants him to marry* and has 
indeed chosen a girl; but naturally he doesn’t look at the matter in 
the same light. He tells her that he’s attracted to a tomboy graced by 
the name of Puglee, and she is horrified. Puglce* she cries out, is 
a shrew, wild* impossible... The marriage* nevertheless, is arranged. 
The girl doesn't want to marry* but conventions in ^ngal being 
what they are, she has to go through with it. Eventually, though* 
it is all too much for her; and on her wedding night she rebels. She 
refuses to sleep with her husband and slips out of the house into 
the dark* through fields to the river* to her childhood toys—to 
a squirrel in a cage, a ruined shrine, a swing. When the mother 
discovers that the marriage hasn’t been consummated, a scandal of 
absurd proportions breaks out—she wails and slaps the girl, 
neighbours are delightedly shocked* and the ineffectual young man 
slips sadly into the garden. Puglee* in the meantime* is locked away 
in his room, where she responds by smashing up its contents. 

From here on* Ray (and Tagore) could have developed the tale 
along the usual lines of tragedy or comedy* of The DoWs House or 
The Tamiug of the Shrew. The road they take* however, is not so 
straightforward. With subtle poise, never missing a step, they move 
the story along the most curious of paths to a satisfying conclusion. 
This balance is the making of Samapti: the droll waywardness of 
the formal tea party, reminiscent of Chekov at his best* could easily 
have run out of hand; and the pathos of Puglee's forced marriage 
could have likewise too easily turned into a lugubrious dratne t 
these. Ray’s resourcefulness is always matched by restraint. 

The acting, too, is masterly. Aparna das Gupta* as Puglee, 
has wit, range and a glowing, mercurial beauty. Soumitra Chatterji, 
who played Apu in the third part of the trilogy, here shows a dab 
hand at characterisation: his scholar is all elbows and spectacles, 
a rare little portrait of amiable vanity. And around them the mother 
and neighbours frolic* as scatter-brained and real a company as 
one could hope for. Samapti makes a delightful and appropriate 
conclusion to a film which deserves the widest circulation. 

Eric Rhode 


THE LOVE TRAP 

J EAN-PIERRE MOCR-y’s THEME in TheLove Trap {Urt Couple: Unifilms) 
is wistful rather than tragic. It concerns two lovers* maries^ 
who come to realise that their love is dying. The husband first brings 
the subject into the open while the couple are visiting a museum 
where they originally met. The wife's immediate reactions are 
resentful and suspicious. She pretends to suspect another woman. 
But she herself ultimately admits that she thinks of someone else 
while they are making love. At first they refuse to accept that their 
marriage will slowly drift into habit bolstered by infidelity* like the 
marria^s they see around them. But gradually they learn the 
impossibility of giving permanence to something intrinsically perish¬ 
able. Each discovers that love can be enjoyed, with someone else; 
and the discovery* since it destroys their ideal in each other, also 
destroys a part of them. 

The power of the film derives in large part from the intensity of 
Juliette Mayniel and Jean Kosta as the husband and wife. Both have 
a superb natural feeling for their parts, creating an atmosphere that 
is entirely true to life—even though the film presupposes a rare 
purity, a noble dedication, among lovers. They are in fact a heroic 
couple, set apart by various characteristics (physical beauty, a 
capacity for suffering and an intense concern for the way they are to 
live) from the rest of the world. 

The other characters are seen as through lovers’ eyes. AH are 


Another ond doughter-indaw in Rcry's Tagore adaptation, **Samapti", 





pnhetic* some grotesque. Their various activities serve to illustrate 
the decay of love, The husband's boss^ who describes himself as a 
ri^list but is merely an opportunist, enjoys his adulteries like so many 
good meals. The wife’s sister, married to a man as unattractive as he 
is obtuse* launches herself without disorimination into adventure— 
beginning with a rendezvous in the lavatory of a hotel. As a refrain 
to these smirking escapades, a scene is repeated three times in the 
concierge's flat. In it the concierge goes through the overtures to a 
dispassionate coupling with his wife, who, hatchet-faced and be- 
curlered, awaits the skeleton of the once meaningful endearment 
('"Mimi, the lettuce is good’") which now serves as the signal. 

The humiliation for the lovers is in their discovery of how much 
they belong to this world, as the ephemeral nature of their own 
emotions is brought home to them. It is a humiliation made further 
painful for being ironic. By the end of the film the wife has found her 
first extra-marital enjoyment. She finds it not with someone who 
might replace her husband, but with a repellent professional seducer 
who conquers her weakness by the shabby mastery of his technique. 

In many ways The Love Trap is crude. It is a fault common to the 
young French directors to sacrifice believabilily to the stressing of 
a point. As Truffaut’s delinquent hero is sinned against, unsinning, 
so Mocky’s dice are loaded in favour of his lovers. The world outside 
them is too unrelievedly gross, too much a caricatured antithesis of 
everything the couple stand for. Gatherings of people, be they old 
folks’ reunions or th^s {imsanis^ seem included purely to show how 
tedious other people can be, No character is introduced, no liaison 
struck up, but it is used to repel us, or to point the contrast between 
crass normalcy and the lovers’ ideal. The point is^ of course, made— 
often imaginatively; but it is too much belaboured. And in the 
over-emphasis our sympathies for the lovers are lessened. 

The structure, as well as much of the photography (remarkably 
free from exhibitionism) is often primitive. The film progresses as a 
series of statements tacked one after the other, not as an entity that 
is developed and controlled. The consequence is a sacrificing of 
cumulative power. At many stages it could end and remain a whole 
—a different story* but a whole. These technical weaknesses might 
well have been caused by lack of money and difficult shooting 
conditions. The lack of selectiveness seems to stem from the 
director’s closeness to such personal material, and his consequent 
difficulty in seeing it objectively. Nevertheless, the theme is meaning¬ 
ful, and Mocky’s passionate seriousness makes it tell. 

Philup Riley 


In Brief 

LIVING JAZZ. Take a smoke-filled cellar full of jiving couples, a 
group of white or coloured musicians and a bizarre lighting scheme, 
and you will have a fair idea of what the cinema feels jazz should 
look like. The ultra-sophisticated example, of course, is GJon Mill’s 
JamnM the Bhes^ in which exceUenl musicians are used as subjects 
for a stylish stills photographer. Jack Gold’s new British film, L/v7>t^ 
Jazz^ brings us back to everyday reality. This is a proletarian, un- 
sordid view of jazz featuring the Bruce Turner Jump Band, a fairly 
conventional mainstream combination consisting of six friendly 
musicians who play together because they enjoy it. Here is an 
attempt to present both the public and the private face of jazz: we 
s^ the players talking over their numbers together and we are also 
given glimpses of their families and their personal idiosyncracies. 
Mr, Gold approaches his material rather in the manner of a Free 
Cinema observer: faces and milieu are important to him in fairly 
equal measure. Thus, near the beginning, we see all six players at 
individual rehearsal—as the camera watches them at work, the right 
distance is achieved and the men’s personalities seem to grow out 
of their music. 

In the middle sections of the film, however, something more is 
needed. The band goes on tour through grey, industrial landscapes, 
stopping at a wayside cafe or a New Town, and playing in antiseptic 
ballrooms on one-night stands. Now tinged with the melancholy of 
Mr. Gold’s earlier production, The Visits the new film docs not 
quite recapture that film’s concentrated, highly personal method of 
observation. Here, we watch from a distance as the men wander 
casually round a market or stop for a chat, uneasy, perhaps, because 
they are not working together. Emotions are hinted a!, but we are 
never quite sure what thev are meant to reveal. Afterwards, there is 
a return to the band’s public face: rehearsals are over, the musicians 
become a single entity again and present themselves to their young 
audience. 

These musical sequences alone are sufficient to place the film 



*'Lfvmg Jozz". 


among the select company of really worthwhile jazz films. Jack 
Gold and his cameraman, Bryan Probyn, have an instinctive feeling 
for the way musicians should be “visualised” and there are many 
passages of remarkable shooting, ranging from a long, hand-held 
single take in which the camera passes rhythmically from one player 
to another, to the final sequence of sharply cut close-ups. Shown 
during the recent Jazz Season at the National Film Theatre, 

Jazz made most of the other films look pretty phoney and synthetic. 
In many ways, it reveals an extension of its director’s range of 
interests; let us hope that he will not have to wait too long for 
another assignment. - John GtLtETT 

RENE CLiMENT’s PLEIN SOLEIL {HlUcrest) is not the first film to 
suggest that an eye for fresh and fashionable talent may turn out 
to be a mixed blessing for an established director. For while it 
certainly owes its smart finish to Decae’s Eastman Colour photo¬ 
graphy and Alain Delon’s bare-chested box-office appeal, it has 
every appearance of being the work of a clever but self-indulgent 
film-maker, only too prepared to accommodate the needs of the 
glossy co-production (this one is Franco-Iialian with American 
characters and small-part players) and the world market, The story, 
clliptically adapted by Paul Gegauff (Chabrol’s scriptwriter) and 
Clement from a thriller by Patricia Highsmith* bears certain super¬ 
ficial resemblances at the outset to the same author’s S(rangers on a 
Train and to Chabrol’s Les Cousins: two inextricably tied young 
men, one (Maurice Ronet) rich, idle, callous, given to whip-cracking 
in the bedroom and towing his one-man crew astern in a dinghy at 
the mercy of the sun; the other (Delon) poor but criminally brilliant, 
bound to the first by envy, misery and eventual murder. The 
relationship is oblique, complicated as in all such stories by a 
shadowy girl (Marie Laforet) in love with Ronet but desired by the 
narcissistic Delon, and impelled by the latter’s ruthless and involved 
pursuit via forgery and impersonation of the rich boy’s wealth. 
Initially the situation is an intriguing one, inventively established, 
but its development soon palls. This kind of thriller calls for finesse, 
perception and a knife-edged narrative drive. Pkin SokU looks too 
often instead like an over-illustrated travel brochure, all luxury 
yachts on the one hand and gratuitous local colour on the other, 
right down to portentous close-ups of fish-heads in the market. 
There are good scenes—Delon trying on Ronet’s clothes while he 
kisses his reflection in a mirror* or trying to lug a corpse twice his 
size down a flight of stairs. But the script meanders hopelessly, 
concentrates (and with an equal lack of clarity) on the mechanics 
of Delon’s impersonation at the expense of all the characterisation. 


149 





and badly lacks a climax one can believe in. The acting is sketchy 
but unforced, apart from Delon’s embarrassed attempt at an eye 
tic when an unwelcome caller catches him off-guard; though it is 
symptomatic of the film that Elvire Popesco should steal the honours 
in the peripheraU not to say irrelevant, role of a ballet regisseuse. 
Dccac has done the Italian locations proud; but, like Clement’s 
neurotically showy direction, they have merely smothered the 
makings of what should have remained an incisively ironic thriller, 

Peter John Dyer 


THREE FROM DISNEY, A few years ago the term 'Tamily 
entertainment’" had become a recommendation as damning in its 
faint praise as ‘‘charming’* or “homespun**. At best, it was a guaran¬ 
tee of innocuous sludge; at worst, a joke. For this decline, Walt 
Disney, the chief purveyor of family entertainment, must be held 
partly if not largely responsible* But latterly there have been 
encouraging signs of a new vitality in the Disney product, which 
could go a long way toward restoring one"s faith in the kind of 
film that attempts nothing more strenuous than to be quietly 
enjoyable. 

In so far as a new full-length cartoon is always an event, One 
Hundred and One Daimatians reveals p)erhaps the most noticeable 
evidence of the fresher Disney approach* Sentimental as always, it 
manages nevertheless to be fairly restrained even in its character¬ 
isation of the cute puppy Dalmatians. The humour—notably a 
splendidly Taliulah-ish Cruella de Vil—has a touch of sophisticated 
astringency. And the London setting gives scope for softly atmos¬ 
pheric backgrounds, refreshingly different from the harshly bright 
picture postcard look of many recent Disney cartoons. The fairly 
long in the tooth child, through whose eyes most Disney dramas, 
live or otherwise, are seen, seems to have grown up Just a little; 
a fact which should please adults while not offending the young* 

The combination of that schoolboy sense of fun, which is Disney*s 
stock in trade, and a sharper sense of the ridiculous is happily 
demonstrated in The Absent-Minded Professor. One feels that only 
a Disney film could enjoy the delights of “Rubber"*—the anti- 
gravitational discovery of Fred MacMurray*s engagingly anti-social 
professor—with the enthusiasm of an infant who stumbles on the 
fact that a pea in a tin will rattle endlessly and agreeably. Yet, 
for all its seeming innocence, it quite deftly ridicules human greed 
and governmental pomposity. The set-piece tomfoolery—Mac- 
Murray’s flying jalopy, Keenan Wynn’s helpless jumping jag and 
the basketball team’s triumphant home win on “flubber“-soled 
shoes—has a genuine comic drive. 

One notes, tq his credit, that Robert Stevenson directed the 
film. But, for better or worse, a Disney film is unmistakably a 
Disney film whether it*s directed by Robert Stevenson, Ken Annakin 
or Don Chaffey. They work, one suspects, to a set of Disney rules 
and principles* A better director—such as Chaffey with Greyfriars 
Bobby —can merely accentuate the worthwhile qualities and play 
down the faults. The meticulous sense of period detail in Greyfriars 
Bobby, for instance, was equally in evidence in FoUyanna and Toby 
Tyler. But Chaffey brings a warm-hearted, Victorian gravity to the 
slender story, about a faithful dog which is granted the freedom 
of the City of Edinburgh, which is both endearing and exactly in 
character. 

While Disney has an enduring place in cinema history, Disney 
productions are undeniably limited in scope and aim. What they 
attempt is a very small thing in terms of film-making. But even a 
small thing deserves a small cheer when it’s done well. 

Margaret Hinxman 


FOR HIS RETURN to film direction, Peter Ustinov has chosen the 
relatively easy course of adapting his own most successful play to 
the screen. ROMANOFF AND JLJLIET (Rank) is charming, 
slight, and on his own admission a proving flight before he takes 
wing—with Billy Budd and perhaps The Love of Foijr Colonels —as 
a fully fledged Hollywood producer-direct on It is also played 
surprisingly straight* Where the stage play owed what distinction it 
had to the inspired improvisations of the President-chorus, played 
by Ustinov himself, and the intricate revue-style elaborations of 
Concordia’s ceremonies and traditions, the film tends to subdue 
both. Such portions of the President’s role (still played by Ustinov) 
as do not serve any particular plot function have been ruthlessly 
pruned; and although the glimpses of Concordian airways and 
telephones, Concordia’s dealings with the United Nations and the 
Concordian army on manoeuvres, are characteristic, the invention 
is severely rationed, spread thinly and evenly over the whole film. 

If the more extravagant humour has gone, so too have the more 
soulful passages of the Romeo and Juliet story between the 


American ambassador’s daughter and the Russian ambassador’s 
son; indeed the nominal romantic leads, even though played by the 
film’s main box-office bait, Sandra Dee and John Gavin, now have 
very little to do in the story and relatively little screen time to do it 
in. This, at least, is an obvious improvement, since the lovers are not 
particularly interesting in themselves* The acting is excellent, 
especially from Akim Tamiroff and Tamara Shayne, and even 
John Gavin is surprisingly effective, partly because cast in such a 
way that the oddly stiff-necked quality of his playing is put to the 
best possible use. But it is saddening that Ustinov’s exuberant 
fantasy has been kept so carefully in check* Evidently this is a 
deliberate attempt at self-discipiine, to avoid the excesses of his 
three British films* Now he has proved that he can keep his 
talents within commercial bounds, let us hope he will be more 
inclined to explore further the vistas these earlier films so invitingly 
opened*— John Russell Taylor 


CANNES, 1961 
continued from page I3I 

the head-hunters of New Guinea but suffers from the tendency 
among today’s travel documentarists continually to call 
attention to the dangers and privations they are undergoing. 
A return to stoicism, please* Preoccupation with the camera 
is softening up the tissues* 

Finally, one must mention the contribution of the Cine¬ 
matheque Frangaise to this year’s Festival: a retrospective 
of Mi^oguchi (including the 1936 Sisters of the C/oii, long 
considered lost) and an enchanting Melies commemoration. 
Coloured fantasies, parodies, space flights, and a piece of 
pure Ionesco entitled The Diabolic Tenant: one is left wonder¬ 
ing whether there is anything M6!ies failed to invent, apart 
from sound and the wide screen. And these possibly only 
because he didn’t need them. 

Derek Pro use 

A Buhuel Postscript 

THE FESTIVAL JURY DECIDED to award the Grand Prix jointly to 
Henri Colpe’s Une Aussi Longue Absence (discussed by Louis 
Marcorelles in the Spring number of sight and sound) 
and to BuhuePs Viridiana, shown after Derek Prouse’s de¬ 
parture. Thus the festival ended in a blaze of controversy, 
with a film which puzzled, excited and distressed in equal 
proportions* Starting with credit titles accompanied by the 
Hallelujah” Chorus, the film traces the brutal experiences 
undergone by a young novice, which include an unsuccessful 
seduction by her fetishist uncie and involvement with a gang 
of rascally beggars whom she cares for as an act of mercy* 
Though it is less physically violent than some of BunuePs 
recent work, Viridiana^s tone of moral disgust recal Is the venom 
of EL Some found in it a gigantic symbol of how Spain now 
appears to him (it is his first film made in his native land since 
the mid-Thirties); others saw in its anti-religious statements 
a return to the nihilism of his early days. On a first viewing, 
the dream-like, erotic scenes with the uncle leave the strongest 
impression, whereas a sequence such as the prayer meeting, 
which is cross-cut with a particularly messy piece of building 
demolition, seems over-emphatic in its symbolism. But this 
is a film with immense overall control, and without the padding 
and waywardness of some of his Mexican work. Not sur¬ 
prisingly, the beggars provide its most characteristic sequences, 
culminating in a wild orgy of destruction in the uncle’s house. 
Framed in one shot in the manner of an obscene Last Supper, 
they also suggest that Bunuel’s view of the world has reached 
a dark and truly desperate stage. The film ends with the novice, 
now isolated and shocked into submissiveness, settling down 
to an apparently endless game of cards with another potential 
seducer. Unlike the striking ambiguity of the last scene of 
Nazarin, everything is now reduced to dust and ashes. 

John Gillett 


150 



ROBERT 

VAS 


HUMANIST 

SPUTNIKS 



W HEN THAT NOW FAMOUS shot of an upsidc-down tank 
in Chtikrai's BaUad of a Soldier appeared on the screen 
at last, year’s Cannes Festival, the tremendous applause 
which greeted it was also striking proof that the dull days of a 
rigid, Zhdanovtan camera were definitely over in the Soviet 
cinema. Things v^ere taken even further in Kalatozov’s The 
Letter That Was Not Sent, which was withdrawn from festival 
showing at the last moment. A pity, for it could have made up 
a trilogy (completed by 77?^ Lady with the Little Dog) which 
would have effectively reflected some major trends in present* 
day Soviet cineTtia: a vigorous rediscovery of the '^''how^' 
alongside the ‘’what”, and a determined pursuit of the contem¬ 
porary idiom. 

Influences from Western cinema and literature are evident 
behind this modernism. The narrative line in Chukrai's film 
and in Kalatozov’s is simple and straightforward, like a story 
by Hemingway or Camus. Within a given situation—a 
soldier’s leave^ or a search for gold in the Taiga—the emphasis^ 
as in the novels, is on psychological penetration. The urge to 
be up-to-date results in a style leaning heavily on close-ups and 
elaborate angles; and there is a visible striving after an 
intimate, chamber-music effect, something genuinely present 
in that real ^ballad of a soldier”, Bondarchuk’s Destiny of a 
Man. 

This determination to confront the individual and his 
emotions is in itself a welcome change in Soviet cinema; but the 
“modern” methods employed are uneasy and tentative. Wliile 
devices like the many big close-ups in Look Back in Anger, the 
dialectic interaction of man and landscape in UAvventuray or 
the restless cutting in A Bout de Souffle really do communicate 
something of our contemporary Western insecurity, and are 
the logical methods of a screen language stressing man’s 
alienation from the world he lives in, such devices when 
adapted to the Soviet reality result only in a strangely hermetic 
kind of purity. The big, clean close-ups, the angled figures 
against the sunset, typify all those modern close-up-against-a- 
landscai^ heroes around which the narratives are built. The 
soldier in Ballad, the geologists in Kalatozov’s film, even 
Sokolov in Destiny of a Man, arc all rather overdrawn and 
obvious characters, part journalistic portrait, part over- 
conscious epic hero. 

And they seem to be somewhat lonely, too. Not only in their 
circumstances—going on leave, crossing the German lines, 


being isolated on an uninhabited island—but in comparison 
with Soviet films of the unforgettable late Thirties period they 
are also pretty lonely within a single shot Compared with these 
modern close-ups, that was perhaps the “medium shot” 
period: vivid life was always whirling there around the figure 
of a Maxim or a Lenin. Poetry, too, was then to be found in 
the human depth and texture of a single long-held shot—as in 
The Vyborg Side, when Maxim, the new worker-manager of 
the National Bank, supervises the first budget of the Soviet 
regime with an expression in which official dignity is blended 
with his usual mischievous smile. In the “ modern style”, 
however, a cut from the soldier’s love scene to a sunset or a 
birch grove serves for poetry. And one begins to wonder 
whether this advance towards an interior portrait of a Sokolov 
or an Aliosha Skvortsov isn’t finally yet another circuitous 
route around reality, a brand of neo-purity in which figures 
are shot against the sky, young girls die amidst flowers and the 
titles include such concepts as “Ballad”, “Poem” or “ETcstiny 

« * « 

This might, perhaps, have something to do with the obvious 
effort to fit this contemporary, intimate method into the 
traditional sweeping Russian epic formula and the ideological 
context of Soviet realism. In The Letter That Was Not Sent 
(still, unfortunately, without a British distributor) the bound* 
less landscape of the Taiga ensures the first, white the second is 
provided by a heroic though unusually pessimistic story (even 
Tatiana Samoilova dies [) about four geologists, searching for 
a Siberian gold field, of whom only one survives. Kalatozov^ 
though, seems much less interested in the humanist conception 
of the whole than in technical experiment and the visual thrill 
of the details: a most convincingly staged forest fire; long, 
hurtling tracks along thickets in the Kurosawa manner; the 
interaction of close-up (the individual) and extreme long shot 
(Nature). With his photographer, the inimitable Urusevsky, 
he manoeuvres his camera with the gusto of a Dziga Vertov. 

Jn the very first shot, starting on a close-up and moving 
away from it to a distance of a good mite, they let us know 
that the helicopter of The Cranes Are Flying is back in action. 
From then on, a hand*held camera chases the action every¬ 
where, like a faithful dog—indeed, like a guide dog^running, 
pulsating, breathing almost boastfully, “Look, isn’t that a 
marvellous angle?”. Influences arc plentiful There is a 


151 





Totiam SomoiVovo in "The Utter Tftot Was Not Sent". 


Frcnch-tyjpe endeavour for a dreamy musique images^ a 
vibrant Japanese vigour, “Russki"' romantic grandeur, and all 
these supported by an almost Teutonic parade of the forces of 
nature: fire, rain, clouds, snowstorms, echoes and trumpets, 
to legitimise the grandiose visual conception. 

The result of all this conscious modernism, paradoxically, is 
something strangely baroque; and in its self-contained action 
scenes the film manages to live up to its intentions. The weaker, 
more personal sections, however, betray that Kalatozov’s 
conception is an academic one, even if he sets out to be an 
adventurous academician in shirt-sleeves. Like Chukrai, he 
splits up his world into little bits of film without being able to 
splice It together into a whole: he has a lot of beautiful 
glimpses but no total vision. And the result is a controversial 
film empty of real controversy. 

The case of Ballad of a Soldier (BLC-Br itish Lion) is rather 
less straightforward. Kalatozov’s real hero seems to be his 
restless camera, to which one may or may not respond. The 
forces Chukrai puts into the field, however, are more general. 
His hero is upholding Humanism and Poetry—both with 
capital letters. 

Jn a lower key, and with proportionately more genuine 
feeling, this could well be a personal work of engaging 
promise. Goodwill, humility, a viewpoint—all with small 
letters!—are evident in the best passages; and the close-up 
study of Aliosha, the Russian soldier whose adventures and 
encounters during a brief war-time leave form the basis of the 
story, is fundamentally well-conceived, The narrative itself 
flows with a pleasing romantic force. 

But then Chukrai comes along with his capital letters, giving 
an extra stress to all the designated elements and failing to 
appreciate that he is not yet strong enough as an artist to put 
them honourably on the screen. His Humanism becomes 
90 minutes of high-mindedness, during which his actual 


human beings are either glorified heroes or sketchily drawn 
bit-players, such as the faithless wife^ the father, Aliosha’s 
mother, or the hard-faced woman truck driver. He wants to 
be Poetic, so here come the love scenes against the sunset, the 
wartime children innocently blowing their elaborate soap’ 
bubbles, the mother sweeping across the wheatfield with a 
resounding **Aliosha-a-a’’ to meet her son. The whole concep¬ 
tion can hardly help leading straight into a Hollywood grand 
finale, with a Soviet Tiomkin cueing all the humanist violins 
and the narrator telling us that Aliosha (almost in spite of ail 
this) was nothing more than a simple Russian soldier. 

If this is Left Wing cinema, I feel that one would almost 
prefer the Alamo style of treatment. Along with his breathless 
romanticism, Chukrai strains after a Dovzhenko-style 
imagery; but he forgets that Dovzhenko did not find it 
necessary to give his apples in the rain an elaborate beauty 
treatment, or to plant his Russian soil with silhouetted birch 
trees bearing symbols amongst their leaves. Chukrai^s instru¬ 
ments are the commonplaces of romantic idealism, and his 
characters serve as riders to this concept. (If we see a beautiful 
young girl in close*up, we can guess that she will soon 
be killed by a bomb—and amongst flowers, for war is 
horrible . , .) This is not a genuine simplicity, as we found it 
in Earthy but a forced naivete, a Primary School lesson in 
Humanism. 

# * « 

Most of Chukrat’s pupils, however, have found him well- 
equipped as an instructor. Cannes was enthusiastic; the 
Californian Film Quarterly called the film **humane, un¬ 
sentimental and true”; Time found that “the theatre booms 
with an immense amen to life.” Aliosha’s story has won 
laurels at many international festivals; and Gerasimov, the 
film director and semi-official Soviet spokesman on questions 
of film policy, exclaimed enthusiastically ‘^Heavens, what 
purity! This is the way to live,” comparing the film’s "reflect 
tion of Soviet reality” with the confused pessimism of La 
Dolce Vita. And this sets one considering how easily the word 
“humanism” is now employed. Images such as the suffering 
child (preferably Jewish), nuns in a convent, the last survivors 
of mankind on the sea-shore, are almost automatically 
acclaimed; and in a climate of the sham it becomes that much 
more difficult to recognise the real. The more inhumane things 
around us become, the easier it is to pass off an abstract, 
romantic humanism as the real thing, li is certainly easier to 
swallow than Bunuers, 

Soviet cinema can never afford to make a Dolce Vita; and 
romantic purity is an effective way to counterbalance the 
“Two Minute Hate”, especially if a world-wide audience is 
ready to load it with awards. In a sense, it is our own hidden 
shame which makes us exclaim “What purity!”—for we 
privately know that our mythical, unified Western Civilisation 
no longer really exists. But a unified East does have a real 
existence, even if it is a forced unity. So long as the Western 
critic discovers—and he is, fortunately, free to do so—the 
inner beauty of the mise-en-scine in a bestial Hitchcock 
murder, or the “human depth” behind the silly shop-girls of 
Les Bonnes Femmes, or declares that in Luigi No no’s terrifying 
disharmonies “Western culture may have found a new 
Giuseppe Verdi,” it will still paradoxically always be the other 
side which is able to send up its humanist sputniks, give its 
“pure” lessons in “how to live”. All we can do is resign our¬ 
selves to a somewhat guilty applause, consoling ourselves 
with the thought that a Chekhov would have done it all so 
very differently. 


152 



BOOK 

REVIEWS 


QU’EST-CE QUE LE CINEMA?* by Atidr^ Ba^in. 
Volume m* Cinenm et Sociologies Illustrated* {Collection 
7e Art* Editions du Cerf, Paris. 9 N.F.) 

1 HAD BETTER BE FRANK. When I began writing more or less seriously 
on the cinema, with an odd couple of books on other subjects to my 
dubious credit, my concern with films amounted to little more than 
an exercise in versatility. However 1 was asked to join the staff of 
UEcran Fraft^ais^ and there was Andre Bazin, There is no question 
that he must in retrospect be looked upon as the outstanding figure 
among the contributors to this influential post-war weekly* (The one 
mistake, incidentally, made by Richard Roud in an otherwise 
accurate and searching assessment of recent trenus in French film 
criticism was in i^oring this lively periodical.) There was a kind of 
bland radicalism in Bazin's approach which I found infuriating and 
suffocating. None the less he made me think. Lest these lines be 
mistaken for a vain little chapter in concealed autobiography. I’d 
better perhaps add that Bazin made a good many people think. 

A few months before his tragically early death he began publishing 
a selection from his articles; very possibly because, having suffered 
for years from ill health, he was aware that he would not live to 
reassess his ideas in new circumstances. The first two books thus 
compiled were reviewed by Richard Roud in the article already 
mentioned (sight and sound, Summer/Autumn 1959). A third and 
final volume—Bazin himself had envisaged four or five—came out 
last spring. The whole thing reads like a fascinating piece of 
intellectual wrong-headedness. 

I can well understand why Mr. Roud's survey, written from an 
Anglo-Saxon viewpoint, carries undertones of awe. Bazin’s abiding 
concern deserved to be taken seriously indeed. The trouble is that 
his pronouncements ought to have been reflected on, neither 
swallowed whole {as they were by a good many unreflective young 
men) nor sneered at. One wishes someone might have said gently to 
him, particularly during the later stages of his development as a 
critic, “Listen, Andre, do you reaUy think that?*' As it was, he 
gained a truly international reputation largely through asking the 
wrong questions. 

While writing a little book on Jacques Bcckcr, Tve come across 
two contrasting views of Rue de V^trapade^ Bazin’s and Lindsay 
Anderson’s. This is Bazin’s: “For the first time, Becker has dared to 
treat his scenario for what it is, that is to say nothing * * * This is 
precisely what I find amiable and perhaps admirable, in any case 
audacious and original* in the conception of his latest film*” That 
reads like a neat and convincing paradox; the trouble is that it 
amounts to overlooking everything clumsy in the storyline. At best, 
it is a magician's act of explaining away. If we now turn to Ander¬ 
son's review (written for Les Cahiers in defence of Becker), we begin 
to detect a response to the film* “Becker is one of those directors 
who is plunged into dissatisfaction by the search for scenarios: not 
enough of a writer to be able to compose his own scripts, and too 
much of a poet (as opposed to a meueur en scene) to work happily on 
the ideas of someone else*” Hence: “The theme of Rue de VEstrapade 
had what was needed to set his talent going, yet he never gives us 
what it seemed to olTer,” 

Bazin seldom evokes very precisely the film (or for that matter the 
actor) he is writing about. One of the most telling remarks in his 
trilogy concerns Chaplin (“// ne donne jamais de coups de pied en 
avanF'X but it seems he only uses it as a springboard for another 
round of doubtful generalisations. He has a characteristic piece on 
Gabin, “who’s always interpreting the same story, his own,** with 
a necessarily bad ending, “like Oedipus”, One Is left at a loss what 
to say, for one does not really feel that he is writing about a given 
actor, and a unique one* This impression, of criticism in a vacuum, 
is oddly reinforced by a piece on Bogart, much on the same lines. 
Having gone through the three volumes at one sitting, I found that 


the cinema is an ever-spreading phenomenon in a no man's land. 

There is a case to be made for film criticism as opposed to 
reviewing, but Bazin hardly helps. He even encourages a new kind 
of laziness* We are all aware of the evils of the still prevailing 
amateurish approach, yet what Bazin and his disciples have done is 
to give currency to an absurd shorthand: worlds like morphology* 
ontology* mythology, sociology, have their uses but should be 
handled sparingly in a cinematic context. Otherwise* one is soon 
liable to find oneself writing about nothing at all. There is a warning 
to that effect in the four-page essay on “The Entomology of the 
Pin-Up Girl”, with the following sub-titles: “Definition et Morpho¬ 
logic”; “Metamorphose de la Pin-Up Girl”; “Philosophic de la 
Pin-Up Girl”; “La Pin-Up et le Cinema'’. Why should those half- 
baked outpourings be published in the third volume, Cmima er 
Sociologie'i Conversely, why not in the first {Onioiogie et Lat^age) 
or the second (Le Cinema et ies Aufres Arts)l Bazin, alas, did not 
always eschew the more rhetorical, mechanistic aspects of contem¬ 
porary French thinking, which is in some ways Germanised. 

Some really good essays are oddly marginal—about the saintly 
image of Stalin in the Soviet cinema, or how it came about chat 
Pagnol launched himself into a kind of neo-realism after resounding 
statements that the talkies should equate plays for the many* Yet 
Bazin's realm (and he was, I think, aware of it) lay in the semi- 
scientific approach. The first and second texts in Volume One are 
concerned respectively with the photo|^-aphic image and the inven¬ 
tion of the cinema* They are stimulating, rewarding essays, some¬ 
times written with felicity, and Bazin himself has pul them where 
they proudly stand. How did it come, then, that he did not stick to 
his true vocation? The answer is that he was also a believer—a 
believer in the cinema* 

In the second essay, he attempts to contradict my friend Sadoul's 
Marxism: “Le cinema est un phenomene id^aliste. L'idee que les 
hommes s'en sent faile existait tout arm6e dans leur cerveau, comme 
au ciel platonicien.” That was written in 1946. In 1955, far from 
having grown into a cynic, he wrote of film festivals, contrary to 
everybody's experience; “I dare compare the history of how these 
festivds were founded to that of a religious Order.” Again, one is at 
a loss what to say—except that there was something admirable in 
Bazin at his dottiest. 

Jean Queval 


THE THREE FACES OF THE FILM, by Parker Tyler, 
Illustrated. (Thomas YoselofT* Distributed in Britain by 
W. H. AJlen, 42s.) 

IT IS ALWAYS TEMPTING to dismiss Parker Tyler (“the only widely 
published and long acknowledged exponent of multilevel film 
criticism,” says the blurb) as a crank. As a matter of fact, he is not 
by any means as cranky as he seems, but it remains a moot point 
whether he is a film critic at any level (or combination of levels)* 
He is a philosopher, sociologist, aesthetician, or some unclassiliable 
amalgam of the three, who finds much of his raw material in the 
cinema. Many of the essays in this volume, though, have only the 
most tenuous connection with film criticism as it is normally under¬ 
stood. 

A bad film is as useful to the sociologist as a good one—probably 
more useful, in that it will be less self-sufficient and in all probability 
less personal, closer to the unconscious assumptions of the great 
mass of its audience. Mr* Tyler’s essay “Hollywood as a Universal 
Church”, on a number of mostly pretty minor films about race 
prejudice (Home of the Brave, Pinky, Lost Boundaries), offers a 
perfect example of the approach. It makes excellent reading in itself, 
being less jargon-ridden than much of his writing, and its isolation 
of the half-defined assumptions informing the film-makers* treat¬ 
ment of race is unkind but acute. The one thing which the essay 
does not give us, however, is any inkling of the quality of the 
finished films after the ideological turpitude of their scripts has 
been taken into account. 

The same tendency is visible throughout the second and third 
sections of this book: films good, bad and indifferent are called in 
quite indiscriminately for their marginal relevance to the film as 
dream or the film as cult. Often a particular film is used only as an 
extended metaphor in the exposition of a view of the film at large: 
Dead of Night is significant because it “reveals in terms of parable 
the film mechanisms which unite film with the mechanisms of 
dream and of supernatural hypothesis”; Miracle in Milan emerges 
as “a portrait of the mythmaking faculty itself.” The book’s first 
section, which at least promises to deal exclusively with the film as 
art, is not much better. Forced to make film his subject instead of 
an illustration of his subject, Mr* Tyler tends to retreat into intricate 


153 



verbiage which borders perilously at times on the indecipherable. 
Whatever does it mean to say, for instance, (of Rashomon) : “The 
total psychological space in this movie* because of its complexity, 
is rendered in literal time as is music”? 

All this is the greater pity because when Mr. Tyler takes time out, 
as he does on occasion, from high-flown verbiage or abstract 
philosophising actually to write about films, the results can be 
most satisfactory. His essay on “The Eyewitness Era in Film 
Fiction”, for example, which is about the principles behind the 
shot-on-the-streets-where-ii-really-happened school of documentary 
drama* is both just and provocative* but unfortunately in this 
volume it stands almost alone* 

John Russell Tavlor 
BOORS RECEIVED 

LE CINEMA, NOTRE METIER. By Louis Daquin. (Les Editeurs Frangais 
Reunis* Paris. 9.50 NF.) 

THE INFLUENCE OF THE CINEMA ON CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS* 
An annotated international bibliography, (unesco* 7s- 6d.) 

THE MISFITS* By Arthur Miller. (Penguin Books, 2s. 6d*) 

LE NE^REALiSME iTALiEN* By Raymond Borde and Andre Bouissy* 
(La Cinematheque Suisse* Clairefontaine* Lausanne*) 
nouvelle vague? By Jacques Siclier* (Editions du Cerf, Paris, 
9 N.F.) 

poems on the theatre. By Bertolt Brecht, translated by John 
Berger and Anna Bostock. {Scorpion Press* 5s.) 

RENE CLAIR. By Jean Mitry. (Editions Univcrsitaires, Paris.) 
television and the political image. By Joseph Trenaman and 
Denis McQuaii. (Methuen, 30s*) 


CORRESPONDENCE 


Pay Television 

The Editor, sight and sound 

SIR, —May T comment on two aspects of the leading article on Pay 
Television in your Spring issue? 

In the first place, the BBC's attitude—for which you quote an 
article by Mr. Brian Inglis in The Spectator —was not correctly 
represented* May I make it clear? The BBC could not engage in 
Pay Television under its present Charter. But we are bound to take 
an interest in any system which might have an important eflfecl on 
viewers' interests and the Corporation's activities. What we do 
question is whether it would be in the public interest to use any of 
the very limited number of channels available in this country, for 
programmes which would be restricted to people willing and able 
to make special payments to see them. We would not support the 
use for such a purpose of any of the frequencies that we see as being 
necessary to the BBC for the purpose of providing the public as a 
whole with a choice of two contrasting television programmes. 

My second comment is upon the argument that Pay Television 
would cater for minority audiences. On the evidence available in 
America and Canada* the investment needed for the provision of 
Pay Television facilities is high and the cost of operating such a 
service is very much greater than that of putting out programmes in 
the normal way. It is very doubtful whether the necessary high 
revenue for sustaining a regular service of Pay Television could be 
secured from minority audiences. We think it much more likely that 
Pay Television would put a premium on the sale of highly popular 
programmes, in order to make the system pay* 

Yours faithfully, 

BBC, Broadcasting House, Roland Fox, 

London, W.l. Assistant Head of Publicity. 

Sensuality in the Cinema 

SIR, —Mr. Rhode’s generalisation on the alienation of man in our 
dehumanised, industrialised society is a theme which writers such as 
Lawrence have treated before with great insight. But if his comments 
are intended as a statement on the Mack of sensuality' in the cinema 
—then I feel that Mr. Rhode can have seen no films apart from 
those he mentions* 

Mr. Rhode seems to muddle sensuality with sensuousness; Milton 


himself invented ‘sensuous', since with its lascivious associations 
'sensuar no longer meant ‘operating through the senses’. Many 
modern directors show an immensely deep sensuousness—and Mr. 
Rhode might have considered Nicholas Ray, whose sensuousness in 
Rebel without a Cause is comparable to that of Henry Moore. The 
lighting of the car chrome to form a massive oval behind James Dean 
in the ’Chicken Run* sequence is an example of the magnificent 
sensuousness of the whole film* 

Mr. Rhode does not mention one of the most sensuous of all 
directors—Stanley Kubrick; the boxing sequence of Killer’s Kiss 
fills one with physical nausea* and the hard-as-concrete long shot in 
which the hero plunges through a window to the pavement ten feel 
below creates a physical reaction in the audience. Stanley Kubrick 
always makes us aware of “the sensual relationship between 
characters and their environment”^—^see Paths of Ghry\ passim. 

The still detail of the Dolce Vita orgy scene gives no indication of 
the penetratingly sensuous qualities of this sequence—the purpose 
of which was to create disgust at the dead sensuality of the partici¬ 
pants. Certainly their bodies were dehumanised—that was the point 
of the scene. To use a single detail of a wide screen shot out of 
context is just dishonest* Mr. Rhode might have mentioned one of 
the most sensuously sensual shots of the film in which Anita Ekberg 
lets her hair billow around her as she leans from the top of St. 
Peter’s. 

Does Mr. Rhode really think that film technique is just a matter 
of lighting, montage and movement? Techniques such as tracking, 
deep focus, and ‘spatial relationships' can create a form capable of 
as complex a sensuous impact as any painting. Mr. Rhode’s 16-line 
paragraph on t©^hnique seems such total gibberish that I wonder if 
he could explain it further? (Literature is “narrative and statement” 
towards which the cinema (if it is to be an art) is ever pressed!) 

The recent films of Baratier, Bergman, Losey, Aldrich, Astruc, 
Truffaut, Godard, Fellini, Hitchcock, Antonioni, Becker* Cassa¬ 
vetes* Kurosawa* and Bunuel have contained a compelling sensuous¬ 
ness, surely obvious to all those with eyesight* Even the English 
cinema can create a sensuous impact—the documentary Life on the 
Usk (shown with The World of Sazy Wang) contained a shot of such 
claustrophobia as to be comparable to the most terrible of Bunuefs 
—as tens of thousands of eels suffocate themselves to death, 
squeezed together in the narrow waters, the camera descends in an 
opposite movement to the eels—epitomising the inevitable tragedy 
of Nature. 

Yours faithfully, 

26 Museum Road* David Sherwin-White* 

Oxford* 


The Magnificent Seven 

SIR*—I notice your reviewer Penelope Houston when discussing The 
Magnificent Seven (sight and sound. Spring 1961) says that the 
dispute at the beginning of the film was over the burial of a dead 
Negro. In fact it was over a dead Indian* I hope this does not 
indicate a desire to oversimplify the “message” of the incident. 

Yours faithfully, 

12 East Albert Road, Anthony Barnell. 

Liverpool, 17. 

Penelope Houston writes: No— merely a reviewer’s slip of the pen. 


Foreign Language Films with English Titles 


MIT UNCLE : ^ man amcaped 

± -^_ *_*. * " 


IrtTKh Cot4r 


BbW : eMTHERS : 

93mA : ••LM ; AZ 

• Bfirriis • Gvrtnon 


• the snow : 
j was l^k : 


WB lAW IS 
JffBlAllit 


French 


Sojtrf far fre« Catalogue of other Rne Rfmj 


Contemporary films 


Midwest Office; 614 Davis St., Evanston, 


267 W, 25th St., 
Dept. SS. N.YJ. 
ORegon 5-7220 
Ill. DAvise-2411 


154 













ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 


StUIs: 

20lh CENTURY-FOX for The Innocents. 

M-G~h4 for Mutiny on tht Bounty, SUk Stockings^ Queen Christina^ Summer 
Homay. 

PARAMOUNT for Summer and Smoke^ Dr. Jekyli and Mr, Hyde, Too Late 
Biues, City Streets^ Love Me Tonight, One Eyed Jacks, 

UNITED ARTISTS for Hoodlum FrlesK War Hunt, The Misfits. 

BRITISH LION for Ballad of a Soldier. 

ALLIED FILM MAKERS for Whistle Down the Wind. 

GALA FILM DISTRIBUTORS for Morte di un Amico, 

CONTEMPORARY FILMS for Aparoilto, The World of A pu. 

CURZON FILM DISTRIBUTORS for Father Fmchali, 

UNIFRANCE FILM for Les Mauvais Coups, Jutes et Jim. 

SOVEXTORTFILM for The Turbulent Years, The Letter that was Not Sent, 
FILMS MARCEAU-COCINOR for La Proie pourTOmbre. 

ROM E-PA RIS FILM for U/te Femme est Une Femme, Lola. 

INTERNATIONAL PRODUCTIONS-S.P.A. CINEMATOCRAFICE for Les 
Godelureaux. 

PRODUCTIONS GEORGES DE BEAUREGARD for Le Petit Soldat. 

RIRE ClNEMATOGRAFICA-FRANCiNEX for Che Ciom Vivere, 
UNINCI-FILMS 59 for Virldiana. 

SATYAJIT RAY PRODUCTIONS for Two Daughters. 

CURTIS HARRINGTON for Night Tide. 

GIDEON BACH MANN for The Connection. 

EYELINE FILMS for photographs of screen lest and Dubonnet commerciaL 
AMANUL HUQ for photoeraph of Satyajit Ray. 

CORRESPONDENTS 

H OLL Y WOOD : A I bert Johnson SC AN DIN A V IA i Erik Ulrichsen 

NEW YORK; CecJIe Starr SPAIN & PORTUGAL: Francisco Aranda 
ITALY: Robert Hawkins POLAND: Boleslaw Michakk 

FRANCE: Louis Marcorelles 

SOLE AGENTS for U.S.A.: Eastern News Company, 306 West U Street, 
New York> 

PRINTED BY Brown Knight & Truscott Lid., London, England. 

BLOCKS BY W* F. Sedgwick Ltd., London. 

ANNUAL SLfBSCRIPTION RATES (4 issues), 16s. including postagCn 
U.S.A.: $y. Price per copy in United Slates, 75 cents. 

PUBLICATION DATES: 1st January, 1st April, 1st July and Ist October. 
Oversea-s Editions: 12th of these months. 


TO avoid CONFUSION AMONG some of our foreign readers, we would 
like to make it clear that the London School of Film Technique, 
whose advertisement appears on page ii, is an independent 
organisation for which the British Film Institute has no 
responsibility. 


i Shirley darkens 

I THE CONNECTION 



Claude ChabroCs 

A DOUBLE TOUR 

Marco Ferreri’s 

THE WHEELCHAIR 
.A N D.V 


The complete version of Jean RenoiYs 

LA REGLE DU JEU 

New, subtitled prints of Jean Vigo’s 

ZERO DE CONDUITE 



and I 

L'ATALANTE | 

The Best Films Come From 

CONTEMPORARY FILMS LTD 
14 SOHO SQUARE, LONDON, W.l 

GER 


Books available from our well known series dealing with the erotic aspects of the international cinema. All printed 
on fine art paper, lavishly illustrated, Frmch text, containing material not available elsewhere. 

The whole series, both in text and photographs, is the most exhaustive examination of the subject I here is. 


EROTICA FOR THE MILLIONS (BRUSENDORFF) 
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L^EROTISME AU CINEMA, VoJ. I (Duca) 

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155 
























A GUIDE TO CURRENT FILMS 

Films of special interest to SIGHT AND SOUND readers are denoted by one, two, three or four stars 


***A BOUT DE SOUFFLE iBLCfBritish Lion} Jean-Luc Godard's first film, 
scripted by TnifFaut, and the summation of France's original “new wave". 
An irrational infantile, heartless tale of a would-be Bogart (brilliantly played 
by Jean-Paul Belmondo) whose love for a semi-intellectual American girl is 
his downfall; done with peremptory^ fascinating style- (Jean Seberg, Jean- 
Pierre Melville.) 

•ABSENT-MINDED PROFESSOR, THE (Disney) The Disney back-room 
boys enjoy themselves putting to good oomio use an antigravitational discovery 
christened fiubber. Essentially a one-joke story, but for the most part deftly 
fantastic^ and put across amiably by Fred MacMurray, Keenan Wynn, Nancy 
Olsen and others, (Director, Robert Stevenson.) Reviewed. 

ALL IN A NIGHT'S WORK iFotamouni) Mildly amusing but heavily handled 
story about a case Of suspected blackmail, benefiting from an energetic infusion 
of Shirley MacLaine. Some bright cracks on the hazards of running a magazine 
empire, much bedroom innuendo- (Dean Martiri, Charlie Ruggles, Cliff 
Robertson; director, Joseph Anthony, Technicolor,) 

ANGEL WORE RED, THE (M-G-M) Priest (Dirk Bogarde) and prostitute 
(Ava Gardner) engage in a few antiseptic clinches during the Spanish Civil 
War: unreliev^ gloom. (Joseph Gotten, Vittorio De Sica; director, Nunnally 
Johnson.) 

••BALLAD OF A SOLDIER (BLCfBritish Lion) Offered a medal* a 19-year-old 
war hero begs leave instead to go home and see his mother. Mannered, fuzzily 
focused, cO'mic-scntjnienta! exercise in the Soviet cinema's newest vein of rosy 
realism. (Vladimir Ivashov, Shanna Prokhorenko; director, Grigori 
Chukhrai.) Reviewed.^ 

•BEN-HUR {M-G-M} Out of five years' preparation, months^ shooiing at 
Cinecitti, 40,000 tons of sand and a sea of blood and Camera 65 celluloid, 
director William Wyler has fished a memorable 9-minute chariot race, some 
Victorian scripture-book Frescoes and an unexpectedly forceful Messala from 
Stephen Boyd. (Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Hugh Griffith, Haya 
Harareet, Technicolor, Panavision,) 

•CROSSING OF THE RHINE, THE (hfondmi) ConfUcting duties and the 
inadequacy of patriotism are the main themes of two intertwined stories about 
a couple rfT Frenchmen taken prisoner during the last war. One of Cayatte's 
episodic “lawyer’s" films, inflated, posturing, emotionally and intellectually 
invalid. (Charles Aznavour, Nicole Courcel, Georges RivitreO 

DON'T BOTHER TO KNOCK (Warner-Pathe) A harassed Richard Todd 
flogs to death an emaciated joke about a lounge-suited Casanova who gives 
various girls the keys to his Edinburgh flat while he tours the Continent, 
Overdecorated bed- and bath-room farce, with Baedeker trimmings. (Nicole 
Maurey, June Thorburn; director, Cyril Frankel. Technicolor, CinemaScope.) 

•••EftOiCA {Cotitemporary} Andrzej Munk's ironic, bitter, brilliantly sustained 
short-story film about the Polish mystique of heroism. In the first episode a 
drunken opportunist is forced by chance into the role of a Resistance hero; 
in the second the morale of a prison camp is maintained by the legend of the 
one man who escaped. (Edward Dziewonski, Tadeusz Lomnicki.) 

•EXODUS (United Artists) Triple-decker history of the foundation of Israel, 
adapted from Leon Uris's cantankerous best-seller. History thinly sliced for 
the box-office, with a good word for everyone; even for Preminger admirers, 
it's a long, hard slog to the finish, (Paul Newman, Eva Marie S-aint, Ralph 
Richardson, Sal Mineo. Technicolor, Super-Panavision 70-) 

FLAME IN THE STREETS (Rank) The colour problem rears its head during 
one alarmingly busy London night. Well-intentioned, superficially outspoken 
thesis film, with working-class impersonations from John Mills and Brenda 
de Banzie and some sturdy acting in the minor roles. (Sylvia Syms, Earl 
Cameron, Ann Lynn; director, Roy Baker. Colour and CinemaScope.) 

GO NAKED IN THE WORLD (M-G-M) Or simply ring Butterfield 9. (Giua 
Lollobrigida, Anthony Franciosa, Ernest Borgnine; director, Ranald Mac- 
DougalL Melrocolor, CinemaScope-) 

GREVFRIARS BOBBY (D/jney) The tiny tale of a loyal little Skye terrier in 
Victorian Edinburgh. An engaging display of canine charm for children and 
susceptible adults, done with simple gravity and humour. (Donald Crisp, 
Laurence Naismith, Alexander Mackenzie, Kay Walsh; director, Don Chaffey. 
Technicolor.) 

•GUNS OF NAVARONE, THE (Cotumbia) Adventures of a British sabotage 
team on a Greek island. The introduction sets the scene for an epic: what 
follows is just an action picture, and although Carl Foreman's script has 
points to make about men in war* they're never ver/ explicit. (Gregory Peck, 
David Niven, Anthony Quinn, Anthony Quayle; director, J. Lee Thompson, 
Technicolor^ CinemaScx>pe.) Reviewed. 

••HOODLUM PRIEST, THE (United Artists) The execution of a bewildered 
adolescent, entrapped by life and a melodramatically rigged script, afford-s 
producer-star Don Murray the opportunity for a well-meaning but crudely 
emotional attack on capital punishment. Irvin Kersbner's direction none¬ 
theless reveals a spark of honesty and invention burning behind a foreground 
of sermonising cliches. (Keir Du I lea, Larry Gates.) Reviewed. 

••LOVE TRAP, THE (Unifiltns) Jean-Pierre Mocky's second film, the portrait 
of a young marriage break-up. Candid, certainly sympathetic, but marred by 
a mania for stylisation, caricature and the sex symbol. Touching performances 
by Juliette Mayniel and Jean Kosta; ShuBan's photography is excellently grey. 
Reviewed. 

••MEIN KAMPF (Gaia) Massive documentary compilation on the life and 
times of Hitler. The raw material of history, though lacking the ultimate 
authority of a contribution to historical literature. (Director, Erwin Leiser.) 


••MISFITS, THE (United Arlisis) Arthur Miller's story of lost child divorcee 
(Marilyn Monroe) and three cowboys searching for a meaning in life. They 
find it in a brilliant sequence of a mustang round-up, but by this time the 
holism is running wilder than the horses. (Clark Gable, Montgomery 
Clift, Ell Wailach; director, John Huston.) 

••ONE-EYED JACKS (Paritmount) Marlon Brando's bank-robber Rio 
pursuing a vendetta against the respectable sheriff. Dad (!), who once betrayed 
him. A him of fils and. starts, romantic impulses and Freudian overtones, with 
everything attuned tO Brando's thunder-cloud performance. (Karl Malden, 
Pina Pellicer, Katy Jurado; director, Marlon Brando. Technicolor, Vista- 
Vision.) Reviewed. 

••ONE HUNDRED AND ONE DALMATIANS (Disney) Feature cartoon 
about a family of Dalmatian pups kidnapped by Cruella de Vil, a fast-driving 
villainess with a hankering for a dog-skin coat. Some elegantly understated 
design, and a full range of dog characterisation, most of it appealing. (Directors, 
Wolfgang Reitherman, Hamilton S* Luske, Clyde Geronimi. Technicolor.) 
Reviewed. 

PARRISH (fFarfler-PurA^) Boy into man, and man-versus-monopoly, amongst 
the tobacco fields of Connecticut. A virility-obsessed matinie piece, soBLy 
awash in Technicolor and choice moments of unintended humour, (Troy 
Donahue, Claudette Colbert, Karl Malden; director, Delmer Daves.) 

RETURN TO PEYTON PLACE (Fojr) Carol Lynley writes the novel that 
America Has Been Waiting For; her stepfather battles for its place in the 
school library; Mary Aster alone holds out. Watchable for Miss Aster's 
exemplary job of scene-stealing, and some fanciful notions about how best¬ 
sellers get written. (Eleanor Parker, Jeff Chandler, Tuesday Weld; director, 
Josi Ferrer, DeLuxe Color, CinemaScope.) 

•RING OF FIRE (M-G-M) The Stones in form again with a very tall story 
about a deputy sheriff kidnapped by three teenagers, ending in the sort of orgy 
of destruction, forest fire, accusation and counter-accusation which takes one 
back to D. W. Griffith. (David Janssen, Joyce Taylor, Frank Gorshin; 
director, Andrew L. Stone. Metrocolor-) 

•••ROCCO and his BROTHERS (HiUcrest) Visconti's controversial family 
saga of migrant Southerners in Milan. Savage in its preoccupation with 
corruption and Sexual violence; specious as social and personal tragedy; 
remarkable In the quality of Annie Cirardot's performance, and in the power 
and sweep of its visual Style. (Renato Salvatori^ Alain Delon, Katina Paxinou.) 

•ROMANOFF AND JULIET (Ran^) Peter Ustinov stars in and directs a 
surprisingly staid version of his theatrically effective satire. (Akim Tamiroff, 
John Gavjn, Sandra Dec. Technicolor,) Reviewed. 

SEARCH FOR PARADISE (Cfuernmn) Still in the fairground stage, this tour 
of Ceylon (local shrines), Hunza (polo and the Happy Land of Hunza lullaby), 
Kashmir (river boats), Nepal and Katmandu (coronation of King Mahendra) 
ends in a display of American air power- Ix^well Thomas’s commentary and 
Dimitri Tiomkin’s 110-piece orchestra maintain a determined assault on 
nerves and enr-drums. {Director, Otto Lang. Technicolor* Cinerama.) 

SECRET PARTNER, THE (M-G-M) Stewart Granger and Bernard Lee, 
both proressionaJ and good, in an otherwise dimly contrived and directed 
mystery thriller of theft and blackmail. (Haya Harareet, Hugh Burden, Conrad 
Phillips; director, Basil Dcarden.) 

SECRET WAYS, THE (-Rufik) Venal American adventurer on the run from 
Hungarian Communists. Conscienceless cliff-hanger, produced by and' 
starring a haggard Richard Widmark. (Sonja Ziemann, Charles Regnier, 
Walter Rilla; director, Phil Karlson.) 

SOUTH PACIFIC (Fox) High, wide and generally unhandsome version of 
the stage musical, stodgily directed by Joshua Logan. Happily the songs 
survive a welter of eccentric colour effects and jungle dtcor. (Rossano Brazzi, 
Mitzi Gay nor, John Kerr. Technicolor, Todd-AO.) 

•SPARE THE ROD (BLCfBritish LionJBryatiston) Belated and timid version 
of Michael Croft's novel, with rnelodrama ousting authenticity and a radiant 
end that embraces Christmas, smiling Negroes, a discomfited bully and the 
hero (Max Bygraves) walking home with the nicest of the lady teachers on 
his arm, (Donald Pkasence, Geoffrey Keen, Betty McDowall; director, 
Leslie Norman.) 

•SPARTAcrus (Rank) Howard Fast's story about Rome's slave uprising offers 
Stanley Kubrick the chance of an ambivalent dip into the blood-red waters of 
commercial Hollywood spectacle. With Laurence Olivier, Charles Lau^ton 
and Peter Ustinov on hand, the acting (and Rome) come off an indisputable 
best. (Kirk Douglas, Jean Simmons, Tony Curtis, John Gavin. Technicolor, 
Super Technirama-70.) 

•TOWER OF LUST, THE (Compton) A freakish 7-year-old version (by Abel 
Gance) of Dumas Pire’s romantic barnstormer about an obsessed Queen and 
her nightly-murdered lovers, including two long-lost sons. Rich, mock- 
classical mounting, pale-tinted Gevacolor, solid direction and execrable 
dubbing. (Silvana PampaninJ, Pierre Brasseur, Paul Guers.) 

••VIRGIN SPRING, THE (Contemporaty) Bergman’s medie val ballad of rape, 
revenge, paganism and Christianity. Chilly and feverish by turns, and takes 
you about as far as you can expect to get In the cinema with other people's 
obsessions. (Max von Sydow, Eirgitta Petlerssonp Birgitta Valberg.) 

•YOUNG SAVAGES, THE (United Artists) From Evan (Btackboord Jungle) 
Hunter’s novel, a muddle-headed though authentically staged account of 
New York's teenage gang warfare, disconcertingly overdirected by John 
Frankenheimer, (Burt Lancaster, Shelley Winters, Dina Merrill-) Reviewed. 


156 





is the first teievision quarterly pubiication in Britain. 
It plans to take television as seriously as an audience 
of 25 million deserves. 

Its aim is to provide comment and information on be¬ 
half of the intelligent viewer - the viewer who reads 
the weeklies, watches Monitor and Sir Kenneth Clark, 
hopes the Indians will win: the viewer whose attitude 
towards television and the world beyond it is one of 
sympathetic concern. 

In the first issue J. B. Priestley writes on the 
challenge to television, Philip Purser on the develop¬ 
ment of television drama, JeanneSakol onTelevfsion 
and the Americans, John Bowen on the do-it-your¬ 
self censorship, Robert J. Silvey examines the 
television audience, Jacqueline Wheldon looks at 
the undemanding world mirrored by the commercials, 
Ken Hoare at the television comedians, Derek Hill 
studies the range and effect of Tonight. 

ABFI publication from 81 Dean Street London W1 


Publication date will be AUGUST 23 


price 3s 6d 












A C A D E MY C I 

Oxford Street • GER 2981 

will present 


The most eagerly awaited newjilm the Nouvelle Vague 

JEAN-LUC GODARD’S 

A Bout de Souffle 

(X) 

“BREATHLESS” 

with 

JEAN SEBERG • JEAN-PAUl BELMONDO 

Screenplay by FRANCOIS TRUFFAUT Techr^ical Supervisor CLAUDE CHABROL